Break free from loneliness
By Jessie Hui
The majority of young people in Hong Kong have felt lonely at some time because of unfulfilling relationships with family and friends, a recent survey has found.
Conducted by the Boys' and Girls' Clubs Association of Hong Kong (BGCA) last month, the survey received 662 completed questionnaires from people aged 15 to 29, with around 60 per cent of respondents aged between 15 and 19.
More than 80 per cent of respondents said they had felt lonely in the previous three months, and 23 per cent said they felt lonely all the time.
When asked about the reasons for their loneliness, 33 per cent said they did not have a boyfriend or girlfriend who could support and encourage them, while 28 per cent said they had bad relationships with friends or classmates.
Chiu Chun-hung, who managed the survey, says the results show that many young people have difficulties interacting with other people.
'There are more and more small families with only a single child. And these kids are used to individual entertainment, like surfing the internet, watching TV or playing online games,' says the BGCA research and development officer.
'They don't go out with friends. In fact, they'd rather talk to their friends online.
'These young people may have problems interacting with others when they start working. Nowadays, the business world emphasises team work.'
To help overcome loneliness, Chiu suggests that young people take part in group activities like the BGCA's adventure race, Team Challenge 36, which will be held on July 15 and 16.
During the race, the teams, comprising five members each, are required to complete a series of outdoor activities within 36 hours. The challenge includes trail walking, canoeing, orienteering, cycling, abseiling, group games and a river journey.
These activities are designed to test the competitors' teamwork and problem-solving skills, as well as helping them gain a better understanding of themselves in the face of adversity.
Competitors will need to have basic skills in sailing, abseiling, map-reading and cycling, and must be able to swim 50 metres. If you don't have these skills or are too busy to prepare for the event, you can join the eight-hour novice race instead.
Past participants say that the race helped them improve their relationships with other people.
'I only had a few close friends and used to be very stubborn; I did not care too much about others,' says Yung Chi-kin, a first-year social work student at Caritas Francis Hsu College.
'I took part in the Team Challenge for the first time in 1999. The experience changed me a lot. I learned how to tackle problems with my teammates and respect their ideas.
'After overcoming the challenges in the race, we became close friends. I don't feel lonely any more. Now, when one of us encounters a problem, we meet up and support each other.'
Each team will need to raise funds for the BGCA and the deadline for applications is June 1. For more information, visit http://tc36.bgca.org.hk or call 2233 9636.