DIVING INTO THE UNKNOWN:
HELPING MALAYSIAN YOUTH DURING THE PANDEMIC

What Is Health?

It wasn’t until after the unexpected turn of Covid-19 at the beginning of 2020 that it became apparent to us that “health” was more than just eating healthy and keeping fit.

Many of us had to convert to virtual learning and working from home. Then there were news and articles about youth having difficulties coping with the pandemic and an estimate of the unemployment rate of 75,000 fresh graduates. All these got us thinking, “How can we make an impact on youths in Malaysia during this period? Not only for our peers but also ourselves?”

And that’s how Wait! PAUSE started, with the definition of health by the World Health Organisation (WHO) serving as a guide in the campaign. 

“A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” ~ WHO, 1948.

Wait! PAUSE was the first online social campaign organized by the School of Communication, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). The final year Persuasive Communication students were tasked with running the campaign.

The campaign goals were to provide the support needed by youth to be aware and care for their mental and physical well-being, as well as to create an online support community to overcome distress during this pandemic.

No Pain, No Gain

With no monetary assistance, collaborators nor many ideas to go about, the initial phase was filled with the constant struggle to get sponsors, collaborators and influencers on board. As Frederick Douglass once said, “Without a struggle, there can be no progress”.

On top of that, with everything being done online, communication issues were inevitable. Messages were misinterpreted and there were misunderstandings. Frustration, discontent and stress all came along as a pandemic package. The adjustment was indeed tough, to say the least. Coffee became part of our team at some point. 

Weekly meetings for each department were held to address concerns, suggestions and complaints. 

With hard work, determination and the spirit of not giving up, the team started to receive favorable replies from sponsors and collaborators, offering time, effort, monetary aid, as well as products. We were over the moon! Many happy tears were shed too. 

We were thankful and humbled for all the support we received. With every struggle that the team members faced, it made us stronger in facing other obstacles thrown in our way. 

Never A Better Time

With physical and mental well-being being our core concern, our campaign activities and challenges revolved around living a lifestyle that balanced mind and body. To keep the youth engaged and reap the best benefits from our campaign, we gave away attractive prizes and rewards. The strategy worked out well.

We held a webinar forum with guest speakers discussing ways to balance physical and mental well-being and their insights to combat burnout. There was also a virtual exercise class where the instructor, a cultural artist, led the participants into fun, energetic and engaging routines. We were all quite breathless by the end of that class! 

This was the first-ever online campaign by the School of Communication and our team of 30 dived headfirst into the unknown conducting this campaign. For most of us, everything was “the first time” and it was a long journey that was filled with learning from one another. 

This immeasurable experience has been fruitful for the team as well as campaign advisors. Through it all, we managed to create a campaign that was new, up-to-date and most importantly, necessary, with the ongoing pandemic. Like how Leon Megginson once said, “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” 

Making A Difference

It is safe to say that we succeeded well in organizing this campaign that benefited all youth and perhaps even exceeded our target audience reach. This unforeseen pandemic has caused great losses and grief to many all over the world. Rather than letting it negatively impact us or watch on helplessly, we wanted to help as many people as we could to ride out this unfortunate event together with our campaign.

Giving back to the community does not have to be doing something big like a campaign. Even small simple gestures, like asking how the person next to you is doing, can make a difference. The baby steps and self-consciousness to overcome this difficult time together are precious rays of hope we can hold on to until this scourge is over, and we can return stronger than before. 

We hope that our contribution was helpful to those who needed a platform to support their mental and physical well-being, even if it was just a short 3-month campaign.

Success Is Everybody’s

During our campaign, we managed to garner international support through our Facebook and Instagram accounts. Not only did we get support from fellow Malaysians, but we also garnered support from Singapore, Australia, Brazil, China, India as well as the United States. 

From the bottom of our hearts – all members of Wait! PAUSE and the advisors – we would like to express our sincere gratitude for the support we have received from sponsors, collaborators, USM lecturers, staff and students. Not forgetting the persistent support from participants of the activities throughout the campaign. Without all of you, we would not have achieved what we have today. 

Together, We Strive!

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Allyssa Tan and Amirah Syafiqah are final year Communication students majoring in Persuasive Communication with a minor in Psychology, from Universiti Sains Malaysia. Allyssa was also the Project Director while Amirah was the Head of Public Relations Department of the Wait! PAUSE online social campaign, conducted from 11 November 2020 to 3 January 2021, which focused on the mental and physical wellbeing of youth in Malaysia.