Being limited to a wheelchair does not mean that one has to be a spectator it comes to sports. Wheelchair users are able to enjoy the game of boccia, which is similar to bowls.
Hong Kong Red Cross Princess Alexandra School has produced world-class boccia players such as Paralympics gold medallists Lau Yan-tsz and Leung Yuk-wing. To help the school continue its strong boccia culture, Operation Santa Claus (OSC) is funding new sports equipment.
Jointly organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK, OSC has supported more than 100 different charities over the years, sharing hope and funding life-enhancing transformations for those who need them most.
'I play on the Hong Kong team and next year I will be going to the London Paralympics. I am super-excited about that,' says Yeung Hiu-lam, a Form Five student at the school. 'Boccia is a sport that should be promoted among the physically handicapped. The satisfaction I get from playing it is unbelievable. It is also good for my health - my upper body strength has increased a lot. I couldn't even pick up my own school bag before playing the sport, but now I can do it with ease.'
Lau Cheuk-yin, a Form Two student at the school who also plays for the Hong Kong team, could not agree more about the benefits of boccia. 'After practising the sport, my arms are stronger. It is also a great way to make friends. People with similar interests seem to have a lot to talk about and I became a more cheerful and open-minded person after I began to play,' he says.
Lau Hok-wan, the school's physical education teacher, was grateful for the assistance from OSC. 'The equipment will be the same as that used in international competitions, allowing our students to practise with high-quality equipment. There will also be money to buy two Wii video game sets. Since most of our students cannot run and jump, it is a good way for them to feel what it is like to play sport in the virtual world,' he says.
Operation Santa Claus will be launched on November 14
How you can give
Go to osc.scmp.com or mail a cheque payable to 'SCMP Charities Ltd-Operation Santa Claus' to: Operation Santa Claus, Morning Post Centre, 22 Dai Fat Street, Tai Po Industrial Estate, New Territories, Hong Kong.
Donations of HK$100 or more are tax-deductible. For a tax receipt, send the completed donation form and original bank receipt with name, address and phone number to the address above. Contact us at email@example.com ; tel: 2680 8159