As a child, Sharon (not her real name) underwent a traumatic experience, which led to her general ambivalence and pessimistic outlook towards life. Upon participating in the Equine-Assisted Learning (EQUAL) programme in Singapore, she shares her change with us below:
“In the past, I didn’t care about a lot of things. But now, I feel like I care for horses. This proves to me that I can care about something… I feel like I am in the sky while riding.”
As an initiative under the Equestrian Federation of Singapore (EFS), EQUAL makes use of horses as a medium to drive positive attitudinal and behavioral changes in at-risk youths. Horses provide an interesting medium – their intimidating size provides opportunities for overcoming fear and developing confidence, their social nature allows for metaphorical learning, and their sensitivity and ability to mirror the body language of people promotes self-awareness.
As an independent third-party, Shujog has been working with organizations like EQUAL to assess their impact as well as provide them with the tools to track, measure and monitor their own impact. To ensure high-quality deliverables, Shujog conscientiously approaches its assessments in the following ways: first, Shujog utilizes its in-house analytical tools while incorporating other industry-accepted tools such as the Social Return on Investment (SROI) calculation and IRIS indicators; second, Shujog supplements quantitative data with qualitative analyses for a holistic assessment; and third, Shujog acknowledges the constraints of these organizations and actively proposes pragmatic recommendations to manage and enhance impact.
Such assessments allow organizations to continuously make improvements to the program in a structured and strategic manner. In the case of EQUAL, measuring attitudinal and behavioral changes in at-risk youths is highly challenging. However, with Shujog’s assistance, EQUAL will now have the structure and systems in place to understand the impact they are having on students like Sharon. In addition, Shujog Assessments facilitates the fundraising and marketing efforts of impact organizations. Often, with greater transparency and accountability, enterprise-driven organizations are better able to verify and showcase their impact, thereby allowing them to raise impact investment capital.
For Shujog, as we support organizations like EQUAL to magnify impact, the opportunity to witness and propel positive change in the lives of Singapore’s youth leaves us humbled. Indeed, in Pathways to Perfection, Monson puts it best: “Some are young people who don’t know who they are, what they can be or even want to be. They are afraid, but they don’t know of what. They are angry, but they don’t know at whom. They are rejected and they don’t know why. All they want is to be somebody.”
That, is what drives our work every day.
Deanna Salpietra and Macey Tan
Research and Programs, Shujog