If you had HK$3,000 to spend on a social issue, what would it be? On Saturday, dozens of students gathered at the second Kids4Kids' Powered by Youth Forum 2015 (PBYF) to answer just that.
Kids4Kids is a charity that inspires students to develop social awareness and take action. After listening to speeches given by professionals from across Hong Kong, students - for the first time in the history of the event - had the opportunity to pitch their own ideas in the hopes of winning HK$3,000 worth of grants.
Earlier this year, Kids4Kids launched the Action for a Cause (AFAC) initiative that invited students to create and launch projects geared towards helping the local community. It was so popular that the charity decided to include elements of AFAC into the forum.
Ahead of PBYF, students from both local and international schools were told to identify their passions and their skills and fuse the two together to come up with a project idea. Jenny Ko, a Year 12 student from German Swiss International School, says the process was very holistic. "Skill doesn't have to be academic; it could be anything from sports to art or public speaking."
After a lot of preparation and research, the students then went to pitch their ideas to the judges. During the pitching session, which resembled the famous Dragons' Den TV show, students were given a limited amount of time to sell their concepts and convince the judges of their originality, practicality and potential impact. The proposed project ideas spanned a wide range of issues from the environment to the arts.
"It's amazing to see the amount of talent and passion these students have," says Martha Fung, the programme manager. "What's more impressive is that most of the project ideas were sparked from combinations of their talents and interests."
Students who watched the pitches were also very impressed by the standard of the presentations. Snehaa Senthamilselvan, a Year 12 student and Kids4Kids Advocate from South Island School, says: "The innovation was what got me most. Every pitch was unique in its own way … the projects were diverse and well thought out."
At the end of the event, the grants were promptly awarded to five of the judges' top picks. The Second Strings Project, one of the winners, received funding to support a programme that gives underprivileged students in Hong Kong the opportunity to learn to play musical instruments.
"The grant is going to be extremely useful for our lessons," says Bryan Chu, a Year 12 student from Chinese International School. "With the money we plan on running guitar, violin, piano, ukelele and music theory classes, as well as buying instruments and organising transportation for the kids."
Joining The Second Strings Project were projects GreenBeats, Elpis, Farsight Youth and the Anti-bullying Campaign; the organisers of all of these have big plans.
Anant Majumdar and Arthur Fukuda of Farsight Youth, both Year 12 students from Hong Kong International School, believe they have learned a lot from the experience.
"I think an important insight from today is that every pitch has to have a purpose," says Anant. "You really have to make sure you're using that to get the audience inspired." As for what they'll do with their grant, the two have decided to use the money to cover the cost of printing the first three editions of their social issues journal.
In a city where everyone knows inequality is a problem, it's a relief to know that the leaders of tomorrow want to make a change.