Seminar Series on Parenthood

Between November and December 2004, the Federation partnered Vocational Training Council in a series of seminars on parenthood where the main theme was "Take a break, listen to what your children say". With the comprehensive support of Metro Broadcast, a total of 4 seminars were run, with a total of 555 parents attending. Invited speakers were Dr. Yeung Ka-ching, Frederick, Associate Professor of the Department of Social Work and Social Administration, University of Hong Kong, Dr. Wat Wai-ho, approved Clinical Supervisor and Wong Sing-chi, Nelson. Together with DJ Ip Man Fa, Barry from Metro Broadcast these guests and the Federation's social workers shared their views on how to improve parent-child communication with the parents. They discussed such potential problems as study stress and teenage love as well as how to cope with adversity and avoid online addiction. Parents attending the seminars found the speakers very inspiring and enlightening and warmly welcomed the prospect of more seminars of this nature in the near future.

Project on learning disorder

The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust has kindly sponsored a support service project for children with the mind-body coordination problem known as Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). The Federation partnered the Heep Hong Society in this project that has included research on the DCD situation in Hong Kong and individual evaluations of children with symptoms of DCD. Other activities have been seminars, professional training, therapy and family support services for children with such special needs and their families. The project hopes to raise parents' awareness of the potential development of DCD in their children and to inform them of up-to-date information on the support available to them.

Fun for Kids at Airport

Sponsored by the Airport Authority Hong Kong, the Federation's Youth Volunteer Network (YVN) has organized for15 young volunteers to take part in the "Children's funfair" programme. From November 2004 till March 2005, every Saturday and Sunday, these young volunteers spend time with children waiting for flights, teaching them how to make creative artwork and playing games with them in the waiting area of the Departure Hall. The volunteers think the activity gives them a valuable opportunity for cultural exchange with visitors from overseas while the children can have fun, making good use of their time in creative play and making their own souvenirs to take home.

Free preview tickets for Elektra

Kentac Investments Limited, Twentieth Century Fox Film's Hong Kong sub-distributor, has generously sponsored us with 100 preview tickets for the action movie Elektra, starring Jennifer Garner and Goran Visnjic. Special thanks go to Kentac Investments Limited for this welcome gesture. The Federation's u21 Youthnet members attended the preview of the movie on 25 January 2004 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and much enjoyed the display of spectacular stunts and martial arts. u21 Youthnet is a platform that provides a variety of online services for youth and we are delighted whenever companies offer to help to partner our activities. The tie-in promotion with Kentac Investments Limited is a good example of how companies can give our youth positive, healthy entertainment while at the same time demonstrating their goodwill to the community. If you are interested in a similar kind of partnership with us please contact Ms Elaine Chan on 21239598.

Effective parenting
It has been said that parenting is the most difficult job in the world. Most parents do that job well out of instinct. They know and love their children better than anyone - but getting it right is not easy. Parents have high hopes for their children - and their wishes are usually quite transparent. That leads to pressure and for many teens the natural response is to look for relief in rebellion in its many forms.



Dr. Rosanna Wong

The recent cases of two runaway boys in Hong Kong indicate the solutions some children seek from pressure. Although the details of these cases are not yet clear, exam pressure was involved, both at home and at school. A sensitive, alert parent might see the effect of academic pressure, talk it over and give support before the problem gets serious. That would bring security, a boost to self esteem and the risk of rebellion might subside.

But with teens parents also have to start letting go, perhaps the hardest part of all. Inter-generational communication skills are acquired through experience and love but sometimes professional counselling or training can help in seeing the situation more objectively. While the Federation's School Social Work Unit aims to identify students' problems at school, our Family Life Education Service helps families maintain harmony at home and enhance effective parenting. The stress created by our very competitive world is testing for all family members. With understanding, good communication and trust we can hope to deal with it wisely. If you would like to help us by sponsoring a parenting support programme please do contact either Ms Yolanda Chiu or Ms Elaine Chan at Partnership & Resource Development on 2123 9598.

Citizens of the global village
The Dragon Foundation's Global Citizenship programme was launched in 2004 and will run annually. By aiming to widen young people's horizons, showing them that we live in an inter-connected world where they need a global perspective, it reflects the mission of The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups and the objectives of The Dragon Foundation. The programme also hones leadership skills encouraging innovative potential and providing motivation and models for participating in community building. In June this year the second of these high profile exchange trips to New York will take place, with the second delegation of 30 outstanding young Hong Kong people.

We talked to some of last year's potential high flyers, Ada Ho - now working at Goldman Sachs, and Frank Lai - a 3rd Year medical student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. We asked what they had hoped to gain from this programme which was designed to cultivate an international perspective, and whether it had matched their expectations.

"Right from the outset I was surprised," said Ada. "I found myself among talented people whose thinking put the tour into perspective… I am now far more sensitive to how global issues have an impact on my daily life. Take recycling for example - we all need to be aware of the importance of sustainability. And disasters in other countries - the tsunami really brought home to me how it could have a global effect."

The rationale behind the programme was to raise the students' awareness of global concerns, to show them how problems on the other side of the world are linked to their own lives. The students were introduced to the work of the UN at its New York HQ, addressed by speakers of international repute and given group project work to mirror the efforts of UN agencies. Sustainable development, business ethics, leadership, disaster management, environmental problems, poverty and health crises were all on the agenda.

"Coming to see that we all belong to the same world made a real impact on me," said Frank. "The tsunami disaster is an example of how we all belong to the same global village, and of how, as global citizens, we can respond."

Asked what made the most impact on them, Ada said the most important lesson was the need to understand and be tolerant of other cultures. Culture affects behaviour patterns and variations in perception of this behaviour can lead to serious misunderstandings. Frank echoed this sentiment by saying that he learned the fundamental importance of interpersonal skills. Both also agreed that leadership skills are essential to make the necessary impact on others to achieve change while avoiding conflict.

A number of distinguished speakers took part and when asked who impressed them most both Ada and Frank chose Dr David Ho, Director & CEO of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center. He has not only led front-end research but has shown how such a global problem must also be tackled at the grassroots level. His own personal involvement and visits to mainland China hospitals is ample evidence of the commitment required. For medical student Frank, he has provided both inspiration and motivation to follow in his footsteps by doing voluntary work in preventive health both in Hong Kong and overseas once his studies are complete.

Asked if they still keep in touch with the other delegates, they both said , "of course!" Friendships made on the programme are firm. They are all now very aware of what's happening outside Hong Kong and have created a web page for exchanging views on global issues and encouraging others to follow suit. From thinking of global citizenship as being something related to economic globalization they have come to see that it means taking on a much wider responsibility - for the global environment and for the alleviation of suffering of all kinds. As two representatives of the Global Citizenship programme they are sure of its benefits and ready to tell the world about them.

We are seeking sponsors for this programme. If you would like more information please contact or call Ms Eva Tseung on 2811 2779.














Doh-ray-me: an ear for music

Psychologists at the University of California, San Diego, have made a fascinating discovery: children who learn Mandarin as babies are far more likely to have perfect pitch than those who have been raised as English speakers. It seems that the reason is that they learn to associate pitches or tones with meaningful words early on. Perfect pitch is the ability to name or sing a single note at will and is very rare in Europe and the US where only one in 10,000 have it. 88 students at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing were compared with 115 at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. All of them started learning music when 4-5 years old - a crucial factor - but only 14% of the Americans had perfect pitch compared with 60% of the Chinese.

This is great news for the Federation since we are on the verge of holding auditions for our fledgling youth choir, The Hong Kong Melody Makers. For those whose first language is not tonal, don't despair. Even in western countries there does seem to be some connection between natural ability in music and first language. Think of Italian - a beautifully mellifluous language - and the number of fantastic singers who have come from Italy. And after all, Beethoven and Bach, both Germans, had perfect pitch, as did Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. The researchers say that western kids can catch up if their parents include a keyboard among their toys – but they also need to colour-code or label the notes. The tonic solfa (Doh-Ray-Me) might just do the trick.






Survey shows 15% students addicted to the Net

Findings of a survey conducted by the Hong Kong Family Welfare Society on the mental state and family relationships of young Hong Kong Internet users have been released. Interviews were carried out in May 2004 with 677 secondary school students from 22 secondary schools and their parents. A total of 1,354 questionnaires were returned. The survey found that 95% of the students interviewed had the online habit, largely for relaxation but 15.5% of them admitted to online addiction. Moreover, 2% of them had searched for pornography on the Internet and 1% had tried online gambling.

This can result in conflict at home and 70% said there had been arguments over it. The problem is exacerbated sometimes because 12% of all parents interviewed said they had no idea what their children did when they went online. Parents generally held negative views on the Internet. Half of them said it meant their children lacked sleep and 40% thought it could have adverse effects on academic results. Social workers from the Hong Kong Family Welfare Society advised parents to learn more about the problems deriving from use of the Internet and to stay alert to the potential dangers of their children finding pornographic and violent information on the Internet.

Child safety online has a necessarily high profile today. To give a few statistics, one study by the NOP Research Group found that of the four million children aged seven to 17 who surf the net in the UK, 29% percent would freely give out their home address and 14% would freely give out their e-mail address if asked. Nine out of 10 children aged between eight and 16 have viewed pornography on the Internet. In most cases, the sex sites were accessed unintentionally when a child, often in the process of doing homework, used a seemingly innocent sounding word to search for information or pictures.




Learning and language disabilities in Hong Kong

The subject of learning and language disability has received some attention recently in Hong Kong. A survey of primary and secondary teachers revealed that out of a sample of 706 teachers, 80% had experience of dyslexic students. In the UK and the US figures show that 10% of all children have some degree of dyslexia and need special help backed up by evaluation tools for dyslexia. In Hong Kong, the Education& Manpower Bureau expects to have such tools available to teachers by 2006-07.

Another form of learning disability is Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) which results in mind-body coordination problems. The Federation partnered the Heep Hong Society in a project on children with DCD. They undertook a joint study between October and November 2004 with approximately 600 parents of Primary 1 children. It was found that 6% of these students have symptoms of DCD and 27% of them may suffer to some degree. The survey found that boys are more likely to show DCD symptoms than girls, a phenomenon which is also true of dyslexia. They should be treated without delay to avoid serious consequences for learning ability, behavioral and emotional development and self-esteem.

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