Teens helping teens: Student-led NGO earns Spirit of Hong Kong Award nomination with innovative approach to learning English

Teens helping teens: Student-led NGO earns Spirit of Hong Kong Award nomination with innovative approach to learning English

Support! International Foundation partnered with local schools to make language learning more accessible for less privileged children in the city

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The five students (from left) Cissy Lu, Alex Yu, Francisca Lam, Dickson Yau and Sana Khuller, who are members of Support! International Foundation, were recommended for this year’s Spirit of Youth Award, which recognises young people who show commitment.
Photo: Tory Ho

Students in Hong Kong may not always respond well to traditional English teaching methods, but what if their language classes came in the form of fun activities designed by their classmates?

Organisers of an educational programme based on youth leadership believe they have found an effective way to help less privileged students in the city improve their English.

Alex Yu, president of the Youth Leadership Team at Support! International Foundation, said the classes coordinated by him and four teammates had helped more than 1,000 primary and secondary students last year.

“The number of beneficiaries keeps increasing every year,” said the 17-year-old, who joined the NGO in 2016. The Year 12 Singapore International School student said his team had divided work among themselves and organised things like choosing instructors.

They reached out to local mainstream schools and offered participating partners their specially created programme, which were made up of specific learning activities such as debate and journalism. He said the curriculum, designed by his team based on their own experiences at international schools, was popular with their partners.

“Our partner schools recommended us to other schools,” the student leader said.

In addition to English teaching sessions, the youth group arranged community events for students of all ages across the city.

The team has created opportunities for schoolchildren to meet business leaders, in the hope of inspiring students to learn from these role models.

Francisca Lam, who is responsible for the team’s programme operations at primary schools, said they hoped to empower young students to lead. “We want to give them the confidence and power to start up their own NGOs or student clubs,” said the 17-year-old Chinese International School student.

Their efforts to help young people earned the group of five a nomination for a Spirit of Hong Kong Award.

The annual awards, co-organised by the South China Morning Post and property developer Sino Group, honour people whose work may not come to public notice.

The youth team was recommended by Support! International Foundation for this year’s Spirit of Youth Award, which recognises young people who show commitment to the community.

Sana Khullar, who is responsible for the team’s programme operations at secondary schools, said the group of five, who are all international school students, would not pretend they knew everything about the needs of local students.

“Our backgrounds are very different, but we have worked closely with teachers at partner schools,” the 18-year-old said.

“We would go to the teachers first to understand their curriculums before we started introducing ours,” the Year 13 South Island School student said.

Cissy Lu, who also attends South Island School, believed their work had helped many less privileged people in the community by giving them hope. “What we are doing is not only about helping the kids from low-income families, it is also impacting on their families,” the 18-year-old said.

Dickson Yau, who attends Canadian International School, said he was impressed by volunteers’ strong support for the foundation’s charity work.

“All of us share one common goal of giving back to the community,” Yau, 18, said.

Edited by M. J. Premaratne


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This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Teens show the right spirit

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