Do you dare to care

Do you dare to care

Despite its riches, Hong Kong has its fair share of serious social issues. But there are plenty of ways young people can make – and are making – a difference

Today is International Volunteer Day. The day was set up by the United Nations in 1985 to give volunteer groups and individual volunteers a chance to promote what they do. This year's observance is particularly relevant to Young Post readers. According to the official website, this year's IVD is "a global celebration of young people acting as the agents of change in their communities".

Young Post's recent beat campaign reflects this goal. We asked Junior Reporters to tell us about volunteering projects in their schools or community groups, and we had a great response. From cleaning old people's homes and teaching English to the city's ethnic minority students, to volunteering at a dog shelter and teaching people how to make balloon animals - just to see them smile, we read dozens of reports on a fascinating range of ventures.

The writers of the best 10 entries have been nominated to receive an award at the upcoming Junior Reporter Awards, to be held at Hong Kong Disneyland on January 4.

beat also ties in with one of the three key areas that are core to Disney, the main sponsor of the JRAs: compassion (the other two are creativity and conservation).

You can go to yp.scmp.com/jra2013 to vote for your favourite beat report - and all the nominees for other awards, too. (You can also buy tickets for the event there!)

Hopefully these entries will motivate all readers to give back to their communities. If you need inspiration, we have four suggestions to get you started.

Air pollution
With only 69 clear days last year, air pollution is a severe problem. A November report by Polytechnic University showed the effects of pollution on teenagers' lungs. A study of Form Five and Six students in 12 schools found that students in 10 schools had weaker lung function than normal, and that students in 11 schools had asthma.

The Hong Kong Clean Air Network (CAN) aims to bring individuals and groups together to speak out about the effects of pollution and urge the government to act. To get involved, you can sign a petition and download the CAN kit from their website.
More info: Clean Air Network

Animal cruelty
In the past few months, animal abuse cases have made news. One shocking incident happened in November, when police found 135 dogs and cats living in cages in a filthy flat in Tai Kok Tsui. A 60-year-old man was arrested for allegedly using it as an illegal breeding site. Charities around Hong Kong have been helping to stop animal cruelty. Hong Kong Dog Rescue saves and finds homes for unwanted dogs and puppies. It saves them from abuse, homelessness or being put down. You can volunteer as a dog walker if you are 16 or older.
More info: Hong Kong Dog Rescue

Poverty
Hong Kong's wealth gap is the largest of any developed economy. A report released in September made global news, showing that 19.6 per cent of the city's population, or 1.31 million people, live below the poverty line. Many struggle to survive, with barely enough to eat. But we can help by donating food and delivering meals.

People's Food Bank, part of St James' Settlement, provides food to people in need on a short-term and weekly basis. If you're 15 or older, you can volunteer to help with its hot-meal service.
More info: St James’ Settlement

Rewards for volunteering
As if helping the community and creating a brighter future aren't enough reasons to get involved, you can get rewards for it, too.

Hong Kong Disneyland's "Give a Day, Get a Disney Day" programme offers a one-day complimentary admission in return for eight hours of volunteer work with any of its partner charities. Keeping in line with the company's emphasis on compassion, conservation and creativity, the programme promotes fun ways to volunteer. Sign up for next year's programme by March 31.
More info: Give a Day. Get a Disney Day


You might also like:

- Operation Santa Claus 2013, the annual fundraising campaign organised by Radio Television Hong Kong and the South China Morning Post, has officially started

- When they were just in Year 8, a group of Sha Tin College students started the uSmile Fund, a charity that supports underprivileged students

- It is easy to make your own healthcare products from natural ingredients that don’t harm the environment

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