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Hong Kong youth

Making something from nothing: 1,500 Hong Kong pupils shed light on social problems with innovative Christmas gifts

  • Students have taken materials headed for the scrap heap and turned them into a range of fun or much-needed presents ranging from card games to clocks
  • Those taking part in JA Company Programme want to get Hongkongers thinking about social problems
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 December, 2018, 11:16am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 December, 2018, 11:23am

Christmas is just around the corner, and many Hongkongers like to splash out on luxuries for the holiday. But not everything you buy has to put money into the pockets of big business.

This year more than 1,500 students have been working on designs for a selection of innovative products they hope will raise awareness of social issues, and possibly inspire a few people.

The secondary school pupils are getting ready to sell their self-made wares at a trade fair on Saturday at Chater Garden in Central.

More than 100 products will be available, mostly made from waste materials such as used clothes and bottles. The youngsters are hoping their designs will make people think about social problems such as poverty and gender inequality.

Pupils from Lui Cheung Kwong Lutheran College in Tuen Mun have created a card game named Hong Kong Strategy. The theme is local affairs, including the impact of the global financial crisis on the city, and natural disasters such as typhoons, as well as prominent figures like Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor. The game lets people play the roles of officials, tycoons, police officers and your average local resident, to get a taste of their daily lives. A hundred sets of the game are up for sale at HK$120 each.

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“We are hoping the public will care more about what is happening in Hong Kong,” said student group leader Esther Leung.

The trade fair is part of the JA Company Programme, one of Hong Kong’s largest youth entrepreneurship schemes. It is hosted by Junior Achievement Hong Kong with the aim of nurturing entrepreneurial talent, innovation and civic-mindedness among young people between the ages of 15 and 18.

Groups of participating pupils form management teams of six and work with up to 20 other students over two or three months on their projects. The aim is to simulate the environment of a business.

One group from Po Leung Kuk Lo Kit Sing (1983) College in Tsing Yi took abandoned toys and turned them into household necessities, including clocks, fruit baskets and fans.

They said their inspiration came from social and economic deprivation in Hong Kong, where 1.37 million people live below the poverty line – about 20 per cent of the population – according to official figures.

“Some elderly people living alone don’t even have bed mattresses,” one student said.

In 2015, the United Nations set 17 Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. The pupils’ products aimed to address these goals and help make Hong Kong a better place, Junior Achievement said.

Over the past 15 years, the programme has attracted more than 25,000 students from 240 schools.