Going in the right direction
Steve So Wing-tung has a catch phrase: 'Work hard now to prepare for the future.' So is a 'life-fighter' for the Direction Association for the Handicapped and regularly gives talks to inspire students.
'This is what I tell them in my seminars,' he says. 'You have to be prepared to handle everything. You have the opportunity to go to school so ask yourself, 'Have I done all my homework?' I believe there are loads of opportunities in Hong Kong and you must be prepared to make the most of them.'
So speaks from experience. A tragic accident took away his ability to walk. 'I was in Singapore visiting my relatives,' he recalls. 'I slipped on the side of a swimming pool. It was the last time I had stood on my legs.'
Yet soon he was back on his feet - if not literally. At first, like people in his situation, he went through a period of intense pain and dejection. 'I asked myself how life could be so cruel,' he says. 'But soon I came to accept the reality of my situation.'
So underwent two bouts of surgery and countless hours of physiotherapy. Eventually, he ended up in an electronic wheelchair. He learned to adjust to his new life. He has also learned the importance of being well-prepared.
'Before I go anywhere, I have to plan carefully,' he explains. 'I have to check the availability of lifts [at my destination] and make sure my wheelchair's battery is fully charged. Every move has to be planned.'
So had to skip a whole school year while he was in rehabilitation. Yet he knew a good education was crucial for his future. 'I was itching to get back to school after recovering from my surgeries,' he says. 'When I did, I was like a monster, hungry for knowledge. I worked really hard as that was the year I took my Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination [HKCEE].'
He adds: 'But two months into the school year, I had to be back in hospital for another surgery.'
It took three months before So could return to school again, just three weeks away from the HKCEE.
'It was tough. All I could do was continue to gobble up the books and notes,' he says. 'I had come a long way and I wasn't going to give up.'
In May 2007, he received his HKCEE results. He had passed all subjects with nine points. He enrolled in the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education to study for a higher diploma in financial planning and investment.
'My aim is to become an investment expert,' he says. 'I am going to graduate this year and will continue to pursue a degree in financial planning and investment so I can work in a bank or a brokerage.'
Earlier this month, So took his first trip outside Hong Kong since the accident to attend the fourth International Conference on Accessible Tourism in Taiwan.
'I learned from the trip that there are plenty of facilities for the handicapped in Asia,' he says. 'I am much more confident about going on tours now. With proper facilities and planning, wheelchair users can visit places that they thought they would never be able to go.'