From public speaking to climbing Lion Rock in a wheelchair: these TEDx speakers' notion of Motion sparked inspiration and change

From public speaking to climbing Lion Rock in a wheelchair: these TEDx speakers' notion of Motion sparked inspiration and change

Last month’s TEDx talk organised by students at Hong Kong University featured speakers sharing their experiences in everything from public speaking to overcoming a disability


Helaine Liao wants to give young people the power to speak up.
Photo: Yongki Sunarta

Last month, Hong Kong University and TEDx came together for Motion, a TEDx talk featuring a diverse mix of speakers, each of whom interpreted the theme of motion in their own unique way.

One of the speakers was student debater Helaine Liao, who had an inspiring message for the audience – one that was likely close to many students’ hearts.

In her speech, Helaine explained how debating helped give her voice at a time when she didn’t feel like she had one, and how it inspired her to help other students improve their own speaking skills. That’s why she co-founded the outreach organisation Kaleidoscope, which provides coaching for Band Three schools in debating and public speaking.

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The Form Five student from St Paul’s Co-educational College pointed out that a traditional classroom environment doesn’t encourage much student interaction. Rather, students are afraid of embarrassing themselves in front of their peers. Helaine’s parting message to the audience was to “break the silence”, describing education as a “two-way street” that requires students to help break down barriers as well as teachers.

Rock climber Lai Chi-Wai shared his story of triumph over adversity.
Photo: Shun Hing College Media Team

Another of the highlights of the day was the speech by rock climber Lai Chi-Wai, who made local news when a freak accident left him paralysed from waist down. He then made international news when he climbed Lion Rock in a wheelchair. Joining Lai on stage during his speech was world-renowned spine surgeon Professor Kenneth Cheung, who spoke about spinal disorders and injuries, and how they tend to be overlooked in the health care industry.

After the pair took turns sharing personal anecdotes, the talk concluded with something truly special. The TEDx audience was the first to see Lai wear an exoskeleton, a device which supports his body and enables him to walk again. It’s no surprise that Lai and Cheung left the stage to a standing ovation.

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There were plenty of other memorable moments from the event, too. Timothy Ng, a bionics and control lab researcher at HKU, took the theme of motion quite literally, sharing how movement helped him find the solution he needed to complete his research project – a moving robotic fish. Suffering from a mental block, Ng decided to try out a boxing class. The exercises in the class helped spark an idea for how to get his robot fish to work.

Timothy Ng talked about taking inspiration from movement.
Photo: Yongki Sunarta

Also speaking at the event was Munsheer Ahmed, one of the founders and the current general manager of FinTech Association of Hong Kong, a community for those working in Hong Kong’s financial technology industry.

Ahmed explained that he first began forming the association while also holding down a day job. However, when he lost this job, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as Ahmed is now working full-time at the association he helped build from the ground up.

Ahmed’s parting message to the audience: “the community gives back when you least expect it to”.

Edited by Charlotte Ames-Ettridge

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Setting change in motion


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