Approximately one million of Hong Kong’s people live in poverty. A 2016 research study by Lingnan University in collaboration with universities in the UK and Australia revealed that more than a tenth of the city’s children does not have a suitable place to study. Hong Kong is also characterized by widespread discrimination based on social, political, racial and gender issues. It is therefore not astonishing that many young people, especially from ethnic minority backgrounds, who generally are in lower socio-economic strata, face a huge range of issues, including discrimination, limited social mobility or language barriers resulting in lower educational attainment or inequalities in accessing future job opportunities. Repercussions related to poverty and discrimination affect all young people in HK at their key developmental stages, but especially ethnic minority children/young people who are growing up in an environment of systemic discrimination in their daily life and at school. The education system has, therefore, a central role to play to help disadvantaged young people overcome different barriers at various levels. However, education goes both ways, it is important to educate/support ethnic minorities and Hong Kong society in general also needs to be educated about these racial issues. Whilst the ethnic minority youth has a strong Hong Kong identity, at the time of the handover in 1997, the Chinese government did not wish to offer ethnic minority citizens in Hong Kong, Chinese citizenship as they did for all Chinese residents and the departing Brittish administration did not wish to provide British citizenship. Thus, ethnic minorities were left to reclaim the citizenships of their parents’ or even grandparents’ and to be labeled as Permanent Residents without local citizenship status in Hong Kong. Most ethnic minority youths are aware of the tensions associated with their citizenship status and most of them have to put up with racism and in some cases, rejection by the local Chinese communities. This does not promote healthy and positive development for the youth of this segment of the Hong Kong population.
The KELY Support Group (KELY, which stands for “Kids Everywhere Like You”) is a non-governmental organization in Hong Kong founded in 1991 by a young woman, who was having issues with drugs and alcohol, and her peers as self-help and peer support group. Since 1991, KELY has become known as the key organization working with young people – in particular, ethnic minority and non-Chinese speaking – around drugs, alcohol and related issues in Hong Kong. Since 1991, KELY provides programs to young people mainly between 14 - 24 who are Chinese-speaking, ethnic minority youth from low socio-economic backgrounds as well as English speaking youth from various socio-economic backgrounds, all with low self-esteem and not receiving adequate support services. Its focus is on the prevention and intervention of drug and alcohol abuse. Programs are designed to tackle the common reasons for abuse such as poverty, lack of self-awareness, low self-esteem, peer pressure, unemployment and discrimination. They use three key strategies: peer support, mentorship and leadership development. KELY delivers different programs, e.g.: Get Positive!: a performance arts-based program offering stress management and social circus skills, Talk2ME: a peer support and communication skills programme for young people to support each other, SOSKELY: an outreach and harm reduction programme at large scale events, a range of Drama & Life Skills programs supporting young people to develop communication skills, emotional management and confidence. The organization is also leading some technology-based programs and is piloting the Coding for Life program since September 2017. KELY was featured as a case study in a 2017 UNODC/WHO publication on Good Policy and Practice in Health Education (Booklet 10, Education Sector Responses to the Use of Alcohol, Tobacco and Drugs).
EMpower’s 2nd grant will enable KELY Support Group to implement “Coding for Life” for 20 youth age 15-17 years; the youth are mainly from ethnic minority backgrounds, and who generally experience social and economic marginalization. In addition to learning ‘IT coding skills’, youth will be involved in life skills development (communication, self-awareness, goal setting, and resistance strategies). The final course work will be the development of a web-based resource to create positive messages around drug and alcohol prevention and peer support.
Primary Location: Central, Hong Kong
Funded Since: 2018
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