Stand up, voice out

 

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Act!on for a Cause 2018 Winner – Memories Cached
Cameron Su @ Hong Kong International School

Memories Cached, a middle grade/young adult novel, addresses the pre-teen and teenage angst associated with bullying, both in the traditional sense and cyberbullying. Written more than three years ago, the novel pierces into the psyche of those who endure bullying and others who thrive within it. Memories Cached is my take on a relevant and serious topic. Although a work of fiction, the title includes semi-anecdotal experiences that seek to propel the plotline.

Set in Singapore, the story traces the travails faced by Dominic Chiu, and not one, but two antagonists, Ryan Lee (traditional schoolyard antics) and Savannah Dixon (cyberbullying). The story features dual narration, both from the male and female perspective, encompassed by the multicultural setting of a large international school.

Besides the publication of this novel, my other goal is to initiate an anti-bullying and mental health campaign, co-sponsored by Kids4Kids Act!on for a Cause. This is a two-part mission:

  • Proceeds from the novel sales will fund an extensive anti-bullying campaign in the public and private schools of Hong Kong
  • I will work with clinical psychologists to make presentations to students in Hong Kong and elsewhere in Asia

The campaign must involve not only the players at school, namely students, teachers, administrators and counselors, but also parents, medical professionals and education department officials, as well as anyone who can fill the void whenever a student believes there is nowhere to turn.

It is critical to examine the perspective of the victims who are vulnerable. While the moment of impact (either physical or verbal) may shock, it’s the middle- and long-term impact that places victims at risk. The sense of helplessness, as well as isolation and insecurity, does not bode well for any student, especially teens who face multiple academic, physical, mental and other challenges at school and at home.

I’ll never forget the process of writing Memories Cached. My hope is that readers like yourself find the ideas and episodes covered in Memories Cached funny, touching, relatable and authentic.

Memories Cached is one of 20 winning projects under Act!on for a Cause 2018. Check out the full list of winners here: http://kids4kids.org.hk/en/news/action-for-a-cause/afac-2018-winners

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Creating a network of people who care

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Every Friday, Klaus and Lukas (identical twins!) from French International School join Kids4Kids for an afternoon of voluntary office work. Read on to find out more…

Why did you choose Kids4Kids?

We chose to volunteer at Kids4Kids because first of all, it is our first time to do volunteer work. Therefore, we think that helping at Kids4Kids will be a great opportunity for us to learn new skills which may be useful later on. Moreover, we know that there are a lot of kids in Hong Kong who are in need. By volunteering at Kids4Kids we hope that our actions can bring help to the kids who go through different problems.

What have you been helping to do at Kids4Kids?

For the past term helping at Kids4Kids, we have done a lot of hands on things which helped programs for children and teenagers. For example, we sorted coin donations so that the organization could use these coins to purchase stationery and other goods, and distribute them to the kids. Also, we helped pack ‘My Story Kits’, which will be given to students from low-resourced primary schools to encourage them to express themselves in creative writing and illustration.

What do you think is the biggest problem that children and youth face in Hong Kong today?

We think that the biggest problem faced among the children and youth is that many can’t afford to have quality education or even their daily necessities. Thus, we hope that people are more aware of the issue and help them in different ways.

How do you think students like yourselves can make a difference in our community?

We think that students like ourselves may not be powerful enough to make a huge change ourselves, but instead we could raise awareness of present issues in Hong Kong to the people around us such as classmates and relatives. As they become more aware of the issues, they will start to join in and try to help with the issue. Moreover, they can also raise the awareness to people around them and until a point where enough people have joined in together, we can make good change to our community.

What do you hope to learn from your Kids4Kids experience?

From this experience at Kids4Kids, we hope to learn more about different problems that young people face these days and what can people do to help reduce the problem or solve it completely. We wish that the experience at Kids4Kids can help us advance skills such as collaborative skills which may be useful for us later on in life.

Community-building across language and generations

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Act!on for a Cause 2017 Winner – Drama Kings & Queens
Tobias Ng, Josephine Ma @ Christian Alliance P.C. Lau Memorial International School

Our project, Drama Kings and Queens, aims to allow children from low-income families and elderly people in the To Kwa Wan and Hung Hom area to integrate through the medium of performing art. We hope to broaden our beneficiaries’ horizons through interacting with one another and gaining a diverse perspective. In the process, the children are encouraged to communicate to one another in English and eventually perform an English drama.

The project took place over three Saturdays in May. On the first day, we taught various drama techniques to the children and prepared them for the play they would be performing for the elderly, which was the Chinese Zodiac Story. On the second day, we brought the children to a drama performance at a local theatre for them to experience what performance art really is. On the last day, the children performed the drama they had been practicing and played various games with the elderly.

We came up with this idea because we observed that there was a societal need that wasn’t just about stuff people wanted, but human interaction. For elderly in Hong Kong, a need was loneliness. For children from low-income families, a need was adult care and concern. So we came up with our 3 week program to kill two birds with one stone.

The Act!on for A Cause process has allowed us to interact with different groups of people and build relationships with one another. We gained a deeper understanding about existing social issues, including poverty and intergenerational barriers in Hong Kong through sharing with one another our daily life experience. We also found our passion in serving the community, and leading others out of their comfort zones and encouraging them to also take part in volunteering. In addition, this process trained our organization and communication skills as we planned everything from scratch and collaborated with three institutions. It motivated us to do another community project this year and extend its impact to more people.

Tobias, Josephine & team won their pitch at Powered By Youth 2017 again and will be launching a new project come January! You can also submit your service idea before Dec 15: http://kids4kids.org.hk/impact/

Stay tuned on RTHK Cultural Dimsum (Sundays 8-9pm) in January to hear Tobias and Josephine’s interview!

Overcoming barriers as a non-Chinese speaking student in a local school

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Shanaya Kumar @ Discovery College // St. Stephen’s Girls’ College

This month, Shanaya reached out to Kids4Kids in hopes of sharing her personal short film with the non-Chinese speaking students that the organization works with. Here is a brief intro from Shanaya!

I am 15 years old and I am ethnically Indian but have been born and brought up in Hong Kong. I have been fortunate to study in the local Cantonese schooling system for most of my life and have recently moved to an international school. I personally lived and experienced the many challenges and opportunities that the HK education system has to offer. That is my main motivation to do this short film – to encourage other minority students to not give up and also to thank some of my local teachers who supported me throughout my schooling years, without whose devotion and faith in me I would have dropped out many years ago.

I understand how difficult and often disheartening it can be to work so hard, and yet due to poor Cantonese skills, be so far behind. But at the same time, this helped me focus on my other skills like poetry reading. This skill for example earned me one of my biggest achievements yet, when I placed second in the Hong Kong inter-school Cantonese poetry reading competition. I hope we can all find areas where we can personally shine and feel a sense of fulfilment.

Cantonese has always been a challenge that I have had to face growing up in the local Cantonese schooling system. However, my advice to other non-Chinese speaking students who also face this challenge is to make extra efforts to speak Cantonese to fellow students and their teachers, so that they can grow in self-confidence and also make connections with more people.

Shanaya is planning to submit to Act!on for a Cause. You can also share your community action idea with us before Dec 15: www.kids4kids.org.hk/impact Winners receive up to HK$3,000 and a mentor to put the idea into action from Jan-Jun 2018!

Equal opportunity in sports

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Act!on for a Cause 2016, 2017 Winner – Support a Sport
Melissa Chiu, Alyssa Lee @ German Swiss International School

Support a Sport is a 100% student-run organization. We aim to enable and encourage sports in local, under-resourced schools. The schools we work with have athletic facilities but lack the equipment and staff to offer extensive athletic opportunities, which is where we come in. We locate local schools to work with and consequently identify a particular sport, usually one that is typically inaccessible to them to teach, such as netball or field hockey, and proceed to implement a tailored sports program in the respective school.

We, as an organisation, advocate for equal opportunity for all students. Sports has always played a large role in our lives and we share the same common passion and desire to share our interests with other students. With over 45% of the children in Hong Kong unable to pursue extra-curricular activities, we decided to begin a campaign to bring the sports we enjoy to others who might not necessarily have the funding and resources to do so.

During our first training session at one of the schools, I remember handing the students hockey sticks and seeing a shocked expression pass across their faces. Watching them transition from hitting the hockey ball with the wrong side of their stick and gripping the hockey stick with only one hand to using competent dribbling skills during games and mastering a slap pass during our last few training sessions of the year is something that fills me with pride. I feel honored to be able to watch the children gain confidence and skills in hockey and netball, whilst having fun.

Action for A Cause has been one of the most important aspects for Support A Sport, as it helped us initially start our project by providing the baseline amount of money which thusly allowed us to set up our first program in Tuen Mun. They also provided us with necessary mentorship which further helped us grow as an organisation, and without Kids4Kids and AFAC, we wouldn’t be the organisation, or the people, that we are today.

You can also submit your service idea for a chance to bring it to life: http://kids4kids.org.hk/impact/

Stay tuned on RTHK Cultural Dimsum (Sundays 8-9pm) in January to hear Melissa and Alyssa’s interview!

Taking the first step

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Mana Mehta @ Canadian International School // Kids4Kids Advocates Leadership Team

Why did you choose Kids4Kids?

I found about Kids4Kids after joining my school club, The Reading Tree, which is associated with Kids4Kids. I didn’t really understand the concept of Kids4Kids, and just thought that it meant reading to kids every other Friday. Kids4Kids is much more complexed and interactive than that, I soon realised that there was the Buddy Reading Program, Action for a Cause, My Story Creation, Powered by Youth, and much more. This year, I decided to join the Advocates Leadership Team because I wanted to be more involved and found out that the ALT was a core part of Kids4Kids that would teach me a lot about how to collaborate and be an effective leader.

What have you been helping to do at Kids4Kids?

I was involved in the Buddy Reading Program, prior to joining the ALT, so I really knew what the program looked like and got to interact with kids. For the ALT, I am the Buddy Reading Advocate, and so far I’ve been helping to organise interviews of Buddy Reading Volunteer Leaders, looking at how to update the website, and work closely with the Kids4Kids team to help the program run smoothly.

What do you think is the biggest problem that children and youth face in Hong Kong today? 

I think that many children and youth don’t realise the little actions they can take to make even a small difference still have an impact. Youth today, and I was one of them, don’t realise the opportunities they have to change something in someone else’s life for the better, and I feel that this is a problem that can be easily solved. The youth just have to want to participate and research more into organisations and problems they are passionate advocating about.

How do you think students like yourself can make a difference in our community? 

I think students can make a difference in the community by being passionate about something they would like to change in society. Just by supporting an organisation through advocacy or service hours, that student could indirectly impact someone’s life. That’s why Kids4Kids is so diverse, it offers different levels of interaction between the volunteer and the community.

What do you hope to learn from your Kids4Kids experience?

I hope to learn how to effectively be a leader and how to be a good collaborator, as the ALT experience and team is a central organ of the Kids4Kids system.