Swire funds help children connect through puppets
Workshop benefits youngsters with learning disabilities
Seven young children took part in a puppet-making workshop yesterday at Heep Hong Society Tung Chung Centre organised by the Youth Arts Foundation and sponsored by Swire Pacific through their Swire Group Charitable Trust.
Although the five- and six-year-old children have autistic and learning disabilities, they followed instructions smoothly and made their puppets within 11/2 hours.
When they were given different types of materials to decorate the puppets, the children happily made their new friends glasses, hair, moustaches and feelers - whatever they could imagine.
The children happily introduced their new friends to each other after the puppets were done.
'Her name is Mui-mui.' 'He is Andy Lau!' 'Mine is Tintin.'
Puppet-maker Yu Ting, with her pink hand puppet Long-Hair Monster, led the children in using their puppets to kiss each other.
'It's different from the stuffed toys sold at shops,' Ms Yu said. 'Every hand puppet is unique to the maker because they felt they have offered the puppets life.'
Despite the children's learning disabilities, Ms Yu said it was 'unfair to highlight their difference'.
When Tim Jones, Swire Properties' senior portfolio manager approached the young puppet-makers, they held up their puppets to offer him kisses.
'As a parent myself, you know how they feel with the smiles you saw on their faces,' Mr Jones said.
In its 14th year of sponsoring Operation Santa Claus, Swire Pacific - the longest serving donor - donated HK$494,000 through its trust for the foundation's new project, 'My secret friend - puppet-making and performing art project'.
Mr Jones said the company decided to sponsor the Youth Arts Foundation's project because one of the company's objectives is to bring arts and culture to enrich the community.
Puppet-makers including Ms Yu will visit between 20 and 25 organisations to provide workshops for about 500 disadvantaged children from March to May next year, as well as staging puppet performances for them.
Lindsey McAlister, the foundation's founder and artistic director, said the idea of providing a puppet-making workshop was to facilitate the children's communication with others. 'These puppets help enrich the relationship between the kids and their parents, as well as develop the young people's self-esteem and confidence,' she said.