SIKS MIKAH caught an interesting discussion between D Jungle People CEO John Kam and ACTV8 founder Lynn Yap who has started a programme to inspire young girls to dream big.

When Lynn Yap was growing up, she probably thought of being a lawyer as her aunt, one of the mentors in her life, was one. So, Lynn became a lawyer. 

But Lynn also had the privilege of having more than one strong mentor who pushed her towards achieving her dreams and a father who told her she could be anything she wanted to be.

Today, Lynn who is in her thirties has had three careers, moving from being a lawyer to investment banking and currently works in innovation and how it relates to strategy and innovation.

“I had the good fortune of having strong role models in my life. When I was growing up, my mum had 9 sisters and they were all very strong and very successful.” Lynn’s mother and her family grew up in Taiping (Lynn grew up in Kuala Lumpur) and her grandmother was illiterate. But her aunts went on to become successful in their lives.

“One of them obtained a scholarship to study engineering at Yale and another was a partner in her own law firm. There were very successful role models in my life and my own father who always told me that I could be anything that I wanted,” says Lynn who jokes about the move from one career path to another as taking her father’s advice literally. 

After having lived in 8 countries Lynn found that all her paths lead her to one goal now. “I believe very much in our future generations.” Lynn, who is based in Barcelona in Spain, went on to found ACTV8, an organisation that empowers and encourages young girls to dream big.

Five years ago, Lynn together with a group of friends started the mentoring programmes in London to inspire young girls who are 13 to 16-year-old. The ongoing programmes get the girls to believe in themselves and work towards achieving their dreams. 

Drawing from her network of friends and contacts, Lynn ran programmes based on experiential learning where mentors do different activities together with the youngsters to inspire them. 

“They also have one-on-one mentoring sessions. There are workshops that the mentors and the students do together, where they learn skills that are relevant towards the Future of Work. It could be design thinking skills, negotiation skills and communication skills. 

“During the one-on-one mentoring sessions, students can ask the mentors, ‘okay, how did you get to where you are?’. The sessions are planned for participants, usually from less privileged backgrounds, to be mentored by those from a similar background. 

The intention is to allow the children to hear stories from the mentors on how they made it and how they overcome their challenges. Sharing their experiences could get the children to say, “Hey, I can do this too!”

Many of the students’ parents do not have the means to share with their children the various career opportunities that are in the marketplace. Under ACTV8 programmes, students get to go to their mentors’ offices to get an idea of the kind of jobs that match their interests.

“If a child likes art, we can take her to a gaming office for her to see that she can actually be a designer of a video game world by seeing how she could create all the characters in a video game,” Lynn explains, “And to show them that with an interest in art does not mean that one should naturally progress to being an artist.” 

The programme has been an encouraging success in the UK with one of the participants from a less privileged background earning herself a scholarship in a private school. Lynn credits her team of mentors and school teachers for helping to convince students and parents of the merit of the programme.

ACTV8 has recently launched a programme in SMK Damansara Jaya in Petaling Jaya which had agreed to be part of the pilot for this year. Unlike the cohorts in the UK, this cohort is co-ed and the programme revolves around sports. 

“I teach them that it’s a daily practice that will get them to their end goal. And it doesn’t matter if you run three kilometres today and only one tomorrow, you have to continue moving.  It’s okay if you don’t run on a day if you are hurt. But remember to rest, and to take it easy on yourself as well,” Lynn explains that incremental learning is an important approach to life.

The ACTV8 team in the UK and in Malaysia include people who are licensed trainers for coaching who can help to train other mentors in the team. Lynn hopes that the first batch of 13-year-olds whom they had trained would return to be mentors in the programme to inspire other students.

She is looking for corporate partners to fund the programmes so that it would reach out to more students, giving them the opportunity to achieve bigger dreams and to have skill sets to prepare them for work-life.

And then perhaps more of these kids will want to grow up to be ACTV8 mentors who will keep the cycle going by inspiring future generations to dream big. 

Note: Please contact Lynn Yap at [email protected] if you are interested to be a partner for this programme.

John kam speaks to actv8 founder lynn yap about inspiring young teenage girls to achieve bigger dreams

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