CLAP eases career and life planning for young people
Studying, private tutoring and homework are almost inseparable features of student life in Hong Kong. There is no denying that under the city’s prevailing culture, young people are generally expected to study hard at school and do well academically. Yet life engagement is more than studying alone.
Young people have diverse interests and abilities as well as different dreams to pursue. It is the recognition of this aspect of students’ lives that motivated The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust (the Trust) to make a HK$500 million donation in 2015 to initiate the CLAP for Youth @ JC programme – the first cross-sectoral platform in the city to help young people address their career and life planning challenges.
Individual talents are as diverse as the living world is complex. There have been people who were never very good at school who went on to achieve something really extraordinary; the names of Pablo Picasso, Albert Einstein, and Steve Jobs readily come to mind.
To mine for special talents like these illustrious men, the five-year youth-development programme helps students and non-engaged youth – young people who are not studying or under any training and employment – discover their full range of talents and explore multiple career and life pathways.
At the second annual CLAP conference held recently, participants were able to hear advice and experience-sharing from local and overseas experts on youth development, as well as feedback from the first wave of young people to have experienced a positive change to their lives.
Lau Chi-keung quit secondary school after Form 4 and worked temporarily as a bar bender. Before long he decided there was nothing about the work to get him excited and he resigned after six months.
“After this job I had nothing really to look forward to on a daily basis,” he remembers. “And I allowed time to pass doing nothing significant or just mingling with friends on the street. I did find myself filling up the gaps between seeing friends with a series of street dances.”
“Then I met a social worker, who introduced me to the CLAP for Youth @ JC programme. It was an eye-opening experience,” Lau recalls. “The programme helped me to confirm my interest and offered me a kind of roadmap in life. I realised for the first time that I’m really hooked on dancing.”
Targeting young people aged 15 to 21, the programme draws together expertise from a wide range of sectors. Since last year it has worked with five community social services providers and selected secondary schools, joining hands with government bureaux, non-government organisations and the business partners and parents to offer a diverse range of activities to young people like Lau, so that they can learn what they are really into.
These collaborative efforts help the young people embark on their future careers and life paths with greater confidence and hope. They are also helping to create a paradigm shift in the general public’s perception of the life and career goals of local youth by promoting the concept of multiple pathways.
It has resulted in significant changes for Lau, who prior to joining the programme felt lost after quitting school and his first job. After the programme, he not only practises dancing in the evening, but has also become a dance teacher. He cherishes each performing opportunity.
Guess what Lau does before his dancing lessons in the evening now? He has gone back to school. “The programme has broadened my horizons, if you like. I came to recognise that being a well-rounded person with good language capability is important.”
“I want to be able to learn from dancers from other parts of the world, and not just on the dance floor,” he remarks with joy and pride.