Centre puts youths on right track
A new youth centre in Sha Tin will help attack the growing problem of young runaways.
Breakthrough Youth Village, which officially opened on Saturday, offers young people temporary residential care, counselling and guidance.
The problem of runaways in Hong Kong was highlighted recently by the case of a 10-year-old Discovery Bay girl who went missing for five days before being found in a North Point park.
A Social Welfare Department survey has shown that the runaway problem in the territory has been getting worse.
According to police, an average 3,200 youths, between seven and 15 years of age, were reported missing each year between 1991 and 1994. Social workers, however, say there are up to 20,000 runaways a year.
The government has said that to deter them from leaving home, some young people need temporary shelter and 'alternative educational opportunities'.
Breakthrough, a voluntary youth organisation set up in 1973, will offer these, as well as information, art and cultural activities, counselling, training and recreation for all sorts of young people.
Its village, located on A Kung Kok Shan Road, will offer some of the facilities recommended by the department.
Breakthrough general secretary Philemon Choi said: 'Youths need care and guidance, respect and recognition. Instead of tackling each of the above causes in isolation, Breakthrough employs a holistic approach to cater to the total needs of the young people.' Breakthrough will also be running classes for youngsters who drop out of school, aimed at rebuilding their confidence so they can rejoin the education system.
'Nobody is a failure. Everybody is talented in one way or another,' Mr Choi said.