American computer software giant Microsoft has introduced a new international initiative, 'Young Minds in Motion'. Under the scheme, grants are offered to community-based charitable organisations which undertake educational and skills development projects for disadvantaged children. Graham Brant, general manager of Microsoft Hong Kong, said adolescence was the best stage for acquiring fresh knowledge, and young people should be given equal opportunities to learn new things, no matter they were rich or poor. The grant, funded by proceeds from Microsoft chairman Bill Gates' original 'Business at the speed of thought', was set up to provide equal access to the world of knowledge through technology for disadvantaged children worldwide. Hong Kong is the first city in Asia to be allocated the unlimit ed amount of charity fund. South Korea, Malaysia and China will also benefit from it. Grants are awarded to proposals submitted by community organisations which demonstrate their commitment to the educational and skills development of young people. Among the numerous proposals from various organisations and educational institutions since last May, the Salvation Army was the first local charitable organisation to receive this grant for the information technology (IT) facility development in its four service centres. 'I was deeply impressed with their proposal, which showed their passion in aiding needful adolescents on the use of IT,' Mr Brant said. Having been in the industry for many years, Mr Brant said he had witnessed the growing power of IT. He said people considered IT as a kind of tool, a means to get information, but actually the IT boom had changed people's lifestyle. 'People get thousands of ways to search for information and they become more all- rounded,' he said. Asked about the addiction phenomenon of some youths or even adults, Mr Brant emphasised the importance of balance. 'Everything needs to be balanced. Do not spend long hours sitting in front of the computer, because it can only provide you with information and news, but not exercise and rest,' he said. He said he was touched by the children who benefited from the Salvation Army project. They used software to create 'thank you' cards for their parents. 'This is how technology fosters their ability to communicate with others,' Mr Brant said. The deadline for the last stage of accepting proposals is November 1. Non-profit organisations or educational institutions can contact Microsoft Hong Kong for details.