Bank gives youngsters a sweet taste of success as they learn to think positively Watermelon, Janet, Bobo and Hoi of the Youth Outreach School of Hip Hop are teen street dancers who dream of bigger things through a programme funded by Operation Santa Claus. The quartet and 16 of their classmates and teachers met young bankers and learned what 'trading places' are all about on Wednesday. The school in turn performed its own brand of street dance - hip hop and break-dancing - to the bankers' delight. The fund-raising for Operation Santa was the brainchild of JP Morgan, the Hong Kong office of which is the company's Asia-Pacific hub. Michael Fung Yue-ming, chief executive of JP Morgan in Hong Kong, said the bank, which had been in the city for more than 50 years and stood by it 'in good times and bad', was supporting the Youth Outreach School of Hip Hop and planned to expand it to a 'cultural renaissance' project. 'It will provide a platform to teach youngsters to channel negative energy into positive behaviour and realise their full potential,' Mr Fung said. The three-hour Christmas party for Youth Outreach began with a tour of two of the bank's trading floors in Chater House, Central. The youngsters were then given a taste of stock exchange investing by buying sweets at four markets. Team D saw its initial investment of HK$300 grow to HK$1,205 worth of sweets. JP Morgan's staff choir and Father Christmas came bearing a bag of goodies for the would-be dance stars. Father Peter Newbery, executive director of Youth Outreach, said: 'We are trying to reach out to young people who have somehow fallen through the cracks. 'You can call them marginal youths if you like. You can call them disengaged youths if you like. You can call them at-risk youths if you like. 'We don't call them these youthful names, we just call them young people who are struggling to grow up in difficult circumstances.' The idea of the city's first school of hip hop emerged five years ago, when Father Newbery's group noticed several young people dancing in the streets. He said parents were complaining that their brains could become damaged, and people from public housing estates were throwing bottles at them and calling police because of the noise. The outreach group invited the young people to the centre along with some other dancers. Father Newbery said they began to teach each other. One of the school's instructors is Kong Mun-chai, nicknamed Cha-cha because he likes this form of dance. He is the school's programme assistant, who found his way to the school in 2004 to learn English and then began dancing. With funds raised through Operation Santa Claus, the school plans to run 'Dancin' to a Healthy Life' from next month to September, to benefit about 360 young people. Organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK, Operation Santa Claus, now in its 21st year, will aid 13 groups. Part of the funds will also go to the Post's Homes for Hope project to help victims of the Sichuan earthquake.