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Operation Santa Claus

The Hong Kong charity using a Catholic priest’s approach to help city’s young boost their self confidence

  • FHL Adventure Education Centre takes lesson from 19th century to help youth thrive and survive in modern day
PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 November, 2018, 10:03am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 November, 2018, 11:39am

Brian Chan Tsun-hin, 20, no longer shies away from people after taking part in a programme aimed at boosting language skills and self-confidence in the young.

“I was quite a reserved person.” he said. “Now I have more confidence in myself. I am also a better communicator.”

The former participant benefited from the 2016 Rainbow Project designed by the charitable organisation FHL Adventure Education Centre, which combined English tutoring with games and activities to give teenagers an opportunity to improve their language skills.

The charity follows the teaching methods developed by 19th century Catholic priest Don Bosco, and seeks to educate the young through loving kindness. Apart from organising activities to help young people build their confidence and self-esteem, it also trains individuals to serve the community.

Chan, who now works full-time at the education centre, said he was delighted he could put his new skills into practice by running activities for younger children.

Fellow worker Tin Kwan-lung, 25, was also a participant in the training programme.

“I learned how to communicate with others and engage with children,” said Tin, who added that he had improved his problem-solving skills by managing activities.

Encouraged by the marked progress of former participants, the education centre plans to continue the project to help Hong Kong’s out-of-school and jobless youth.

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Sandy Chan Lok-sum, deputy director of the youth charity, said the second phase of the Rainbow Project would give 30 participants a more diversified experience, as opposed to the earlier focus on English training for 100 young adults.

“Many school-leavers lack self-confidence and job searching skills,” she said.

With the aim of empowering young people, the charity has held activities since October to develop participants’ potential through adventure-based counselling, and positive psychology training. Courses on life and career planning will also be organised.

The project, which centres on the theme “painting colourful life together”, will be funded by Operation Santa Claus, the annual charity fundraiser organised by the Post and government broadcaster RTHK.

Carlo Lai Kwok-seung, director and chairman of FHL Adventure Education Centre, said his team would continue to develop the project.

“We may incorporate new ideas into our programme as we gain more experience,” he said.

“We also want to expand our reach so that more young people from different backgrounds can benefit from it.”