Project for troubled teenagers in doubt

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 October, 2009, 12:00am

The future of a programme that helps wayward young people turn their lives around is in doubt because it needs sponsors and a new leader.

Fifty teenagers said goodbye to their Project Wild Goose mentors yesterday, the last day of the programme, which has helped 200 teens since its launch four years ago. The year-long project pairs troubled teenagers with police mentors who meet once a month and volunteer once a week.

Matthew So Hung-hei, 15, said the experience changed his life. 'I used to be a hideous student. And I was a gangster who always bullied strangers in the street. But this programme helped me understand what's important and now I don't hang around with my gangster friends anymore.'

Man Chi-wao, 44, has been a policeman for 21 years and a mentor in the programme for three. He said the best part about the scheme was that he not only inspired and guided teenagers but also got a 'tremendous release of pressure' from work.

He would like the project to continue but the man who started the programme, Cheung Siu-wah, New Territories North regional police commander, retires in two weeks.

A spokeswoman said she was not sure if the programme would continue because it needed to find another project leader and sponsors. The programme had a budget of HK$90,000 last year.

Wild Goose helps New Territories students who have minor misconduct records. Activities include volunteer work, adventure camps or visits to the elderly and correctional centres. The Lutheran Social Service and the police are co-organisers.