Operation Santa Claus

Changing Young Lives Foundation helps children learn through play

The Changing Young Lives Foundation gives poor families a chance to grow and thrive

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 November, 2013, 5:03am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 November, 2013, 5:03am

A common complaint in Hong Kong is that children are overloaded with extra classes and activities from an early age.

But some children do not feel the weight of their parents' academic expectations and never get the opportunity to learn.

They grow up in some of the city's poorest families, where instead of learning through play they are left to watch television. And according to Tammy Leung Yuk-chun, executive director of the Changing Young Lives Foundation, some parents don't even realise when it's time to send their children to kindergarten.

The foundation aims to give these underprivileged children the chance to learn, and last year began providing playgroups for them, and workshops for their parents, at its centre in Pak Tin, a housing estate in Sham Shui Po.

"I learned to speak with a softer voice when teaching my children, and not to shout at them. I know I have to control my anger," said Fong Yu-kam, 39, who takes her two daughters, aged three and five, to the centre once a week. She learns parenting skills while her daughters have fun playing with the other children and learning basic social skills.

"They used to be very messy. Now, they have learned to pick up their toys," said the full-time mother. "Sometimes it's stressful looking after them. I've met other parents here at the centre and we can chat and relax a bit."

Operation Santa Claus, jointly organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK, is raising funds for the foundation to continue these free workshops next year. They will help more than 100 children aged one to five, mostly from Sham Shui Po.

Many of these families cannot even afford the transport costs to get to a playgroup, let alone pay for private education centre fees.

Leung said it was a shame for young children to miss out on this golden time of learning.

Another mother, Li Fengchu, 27, said the centre had eased her burden in taking care of her two boys, aged two and five, while she tended to her two-month-old baby. "They've met many friends here and have learned to be more obedient," she said.


How you can give

  • Donate online by credit card at
  • Donate at an ATM or at any HSBC branch (account number 502-676299-001 for SCMP Charities Ltd - Operation Santa Claus)
  • You can donate with a cheque payable to "SCMP Charities Ltd - Operation Santa Claus" and mail it to: Operation Santa Claus, Morning Post Centre, 22 Dai Fat Street, Tai Po Industrial Estate, New Territories
  • Donations of HK$100 or more are tax-deductible. If you would like a tax receipt, please send the completed donation form and original bank receipt, with your name, address and phone number, to the above address.

Please call 2680 8159 or e-mail [email protected] with any inquiries, or visit us online at