SOTY 2021: How one winner helped seniors stay connected amid Covid-19

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  • Mok Tin-yan spends up to 300 hours every year volunteering at different organisations
  • The Form Four student and her classmates set up a YouTube channel that teaches the elderly how to use smartphones during the pandemic
Sue Ng |
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Mok Tin-yan (left) is the 2021 winner of the Student of the Year Community Contributor award. Photo: SCMP

For this year’s Student of the Year Community Contributor winner Mok Tin-yan, voluntary work means more than giving and receiving; it is a process of hands-on learning.

At Primary Four, she started volunteering at the Hong Kong Cancer Fund which changed her outlook.

“I used to be an introverted child who was afraid of communicating with people. But volunteering helped me become an optimistic and active person,” said the Form Four student from Po Leung Kuk Tang Yuk Tien College.

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Since then, she has spent up to 300 hours every year volunteering at different organisations. Although some people are worried that doing community service would affect students’ grades, Tin-yan said this was not the case.

“Being a student doesn’t mean you have to devote all your time to studying. There are some life experiences that you can never learn from books,” she stressed.

“These life experiences actually help with my study and also bring me happiness.”

Having worked with seniors, youth groups, children with special needs, and environmental groups, Tin-yan enjoys elderly services the most. She recalled the time spent with her grandma, who had a stroke when Tin-yan was a child.

“I have a close relationship with my grandma, and I visit her regularly. From her experiences, I understand the problems faced by the older adults,” she said, adding that she hoped to set up a social enterprise serving the elderly.

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Last year, even though the Covid-19 pandemic made her community work more challenging, Tin-yan’s dedication to elderly services never wavered. Instead, she found a new way to overcome social distancing rules and reach more senior citizens in need.

Given that many elderly people were confined at home and unable to meet people, she set up Smart Technology for Senior Adults, a YouTube channel, with her classmates to teach the seniors how to use smartphones.

Now in its 40th year, the Student of the Year Awards recognises the achievements of secondary school students, with 11 awards across nine categories. The results were announced earlier this year. It is organised by the South China Morning Post and sponsored by the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

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