A youth-led charity focusing on education inequality is calling for more disadvantaged students in Hong Kong to join their programmes.
Besides from their flagship branch here in Hong Kong, NGO Support! also operates in Seoul, Washington DC and Hangzhou.
The local team is currently looking for more volunteers to help run their activities and more student groups and schools to benefit from them.
“It pains me to see so many bright and thoughtful local students get tackled by the system,” 15-year-old founder and president of the group Joseph Wan told Coconuts HK.
“I know of many cases where the students are gifted, but because of the school’s lack of resources, the students are placed in an environment where they cannot grow and develop,” he added.
Wan was inspired to set up Support! last year by the “true success story” of his father.
“My father grew up impoverished and did not go to the best school. But through hard work, he finished his school, and then worked until he could send himself to university in the UK. Now, he is a director at one of Hong Kong’s biggest engineering firms. And so I want to reach out and help those who need it, those who want to do great things.”
So how does it work?
“The organisation is guided and governed by the three pillars of our mission: youth leadership, mutual learning and helping low-income communities,” Wan explains.
“To us, youth leadership means that everything we do is initiated, led and maintained by students and young people. We offer programmes to local schools in low-income districts. Programmes that they otherwise would not have access to.”
The organisation runs classes for both children and adultsin sport, debate, oral and written English, interviewing, counselling and more. Whilst Wan admits their classes do not yet encompass the visual and performing arts, he believes the current subjects are solid stepping stones to help their student beneficiaries reach their personal goals.
“We want to hone our current programmes and make them better,” Wan adds. “Previously, our focus was expansion, and I truly believe we have done a tremendous job in that. But now, we are shifting our focus to the foundation and quality of our programmes. In the future, however, we may advance when we have the capability and people within the organisation who are passionate about those subject areas.”
And it’s getting more young people involved that proves to be Support!’s biggest challenge. Wan tells us that the organisation is run by a humble but hard working group of about 60 volunteers.
“The schools do not pay us anything at all, but we still try our best. We strongly believe that when everything is youth-led, our members can grow and make a difference in our immediate and international communities.”
If you would like to get involved or know students who could benefit from Support!, please contact Joseph Wan at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their Facebook page.
Current programmes run by Support!:
* Debate at Tak Oi Secondary School (Tuesdays 4:15pm – 5:15pm)
* Sustainability & Environment at Aberdeen Technical School (Wednesdays 4pm – 5:15pm)
* Sports & English Tutoring of migrant workers’ children at Chinese International School (Saturdays 10:30am – 12:30pm)
* Oral & Written English for migrant mothers, in partnership with PathfindersHK at Chinese International School (Saturdays 10:30am – 12:30pm)
* Basics of English for migrant workers’ children, in partnership with PathfindersHK at Chinese International School (Saturdays 10:30am -1 2:30pm)