#Hashtag Hong Kong



    Listen to #Hashtag Hong Kong every Sunday morning at 8.15

    Focussing on issues affecting civil society, we'll hear from representatives of NGOs, associations, statutory bodies, and non-profit groups.

    (Sundays 8.15am - 8.25am)



    Erica Lee, the Director of The Hong Kong Down Syndrome Association

    World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD) , 21 March, is a global awareness day which has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012. The date for WDSD being the 21st day of the 3rd month, was selected to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome. This extra genetic material causes the developmental changes and physical features of Down syndrome.


    Down syndrome varies in severity among individuals, causing lifelong intellectual disability and developmental delays. It's the most common genetic chromosomal disorder and cause of learning disabilities in children. It also commonly causes other medical abnormalities, including heart and gastrointestinal disorders. Better understanding of Down syndrome and early interventions can greatly increase the quality of life for children and adults with this disorder and help them live fulfilling lives.


    The Hong Kong Down Syndrome Association is committed to serving individuals with Down Syndrome, intellectual disabilities or other disabilities and their family members with integrated family support and vocational rehabilitation services. As an organization dedicated to serving people with Down syndrome and their families, we deeply understand that for expectant parents who are suspected of having a fetus with Down syndrome or parents who have just given birth to a newborn baby with Down syndrome, they will encounter a critical period full of hesitation, confusion and doubts. Through our Pre-natal & New Born Counselling & Support Service for Parents of Babies with Down Syndrome, we actively provide these parents with comprehensive information and appropriate emotional support.


    Let me share a life story with you. 


    The parents contacted us after the birth of their daughter Esther in 2016.  During the various pregnancy check-ups, they were told repeatedly that there were high risks of carrying a fetus with Down Syndrome.  At first, the parents were shocked by the persistence from the medical professionals despite having communicated their decision to continue with the pregnancy. Esther’s parents were very positive and accepted the fact she would be born with special needs. They said, “She is a gift from God. Down Syndrome does not define who she is, she is a precious child first!”


    As the parents were not familiar to the rehabilitation services in Hong Kong, our social worker shared lots of useful information with them. For example, the importance of Child assessment, the application procedures for social welfare and the importance of early intervention to newborn babies with Down Syndrome, etc.  Esther was born premature and also confirmed having congenital heart defect soon after birth.  She was admitted to PICU for some time in infancy.  Our social worker had also provided counselling and psychological support services to them. Early intervention training was provided to enhance her development in muscle, cognition, language and social skills. They were deeply touched by the support and care from the association to the family still now. 


    Esther is nearly 7 years old now and is studying in a primary school since last September.  She is sociable at school and is coping well with her primary school life.  The parents shared that Down Syndrome does not define who the person is. Some people may find it difficult, but don’t forget that there is a community with a big heart that is willing to help, care and accept.


    It’s deeply true that everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and people with Down Syndrome need more acceptance. Individuals with Down Syndrome have the right to social resources, and also the responsibility to contribute to society. They are capable of working as long as employers give them the opportunity. If you are willing to accept and embrace people with Down Syndrome, they can also have a happy and meaningful life just like you and me!


    Do you want to get involve to raise the awareness on Down Syndrome? It couldn’t be easier! As I mention in the beginning, most people with Down Syndrome carry an extra one at their 21st pair of chromosomes. The shape of socks is like a chromosome. This condition, then is just like a pair of colorful mismatched socks. The odd pair of socks may be a different pattern or color but can still be worn together and form a colorful picture! On the coming 21 March, the World Down Syndrome Day, all you need to do is to wear mismatched socks or most colourful socks that are going to get noticed. To represent the beauty of diversity, possibility, inclusion and a new perspective of seeing things on this special day, and also to raise the public concern to people with Down Syndrome together!


    May we live in a society without prejudice, where everyone can enjoy equality, love

    and, friendship.

    I’d like to dedicate this song to the listener and all our members...“This is Me…”


    19/03/2023 - 足本 Full (HKT 08:15 - 08:30)

    19/03/2023 - Erica Lee, the Director of The Hong Kong Down Syndrome Association


    01 - 03


    Erica Lee, the Director of The Hong Kong Down Syndrome Association


    Tiffany Leung, Registered Social Worker, Smoking Cessation Program in Workplace of The Lok Sin Tong Benevolent Society, Kowloon


    Professor Jonathan Wong, Director, Hong Kong Organic Resource Centre Certification, Hong Kong Baptist University


    David Cheung, CEO of Hong Kong Seeing Eye Dog Services and  Ice, one of the seeing eye dogs in their centre


    Andy Ho, Executive Director  The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups



    Jolian Chui, Assistant Director of Programme, International Social Service Hong Kong Branch


    Jacky Ng, Chairman of Internet Society Hong Kong


    Chris Tse, the Chairman, Institute of Financial Planners of Hong Kong


    Zoe Lee, Chief Strategy Officer, Food Angel

    Cindy Ng, Senior Manager of Programmes & Services, KELY Support Group

    When KELY first started in 1991, it didn’t have a strategic plan. Our theory then was simple - to save lives. The initial group of young people who had started KELY saw how their peers were struggling with life’s pressures, with no real avenues of support, and as a result, turned to negative coping mechanisms including drug abuse, self harm and sometimes even death. As a support group, KELY quickly spread from one young person to another, and the organisation soon became publicly known, receiving invitations to share personal experience stories in school settings for educational purposes.  
    30 years later, we are proud of our history and the young people who started this movement of peer support and the subsequent achievements we have seen as a youth organisation. Today, our services have expanded beyond drug prevention education to include services tackling mental health issues among youth as well as providing positive youth development opportunities as a way to empower the youth and strengthen their resilience.
    Every year we support anywhere between 10-30,000 Hong Kong youth and with each decade we see young people within this same age group of 14-24 year olds facing different challenges. Throughout history we’ve seen evolution and progress in technology, in education, and on a societal level. With each generation we see new emerging trends and communication styles. The “how” today has changed to one that is no longer face to face, but hides behind screens. Our expressions are no longer lengthy descriptions of emotions and feelings in words, but replaced by five second video reels or one single character - an emoji. The efficiency of this way of emotion expression is high, but is it as effective as we need to be when communicating complex thoughts?
    This generation of youth is born into online chat rooms and technology that brings the world’s information and burdens at one click of a button. Whether or not young people are able to make sense of and process this burden is yet to be known. We see that the power of accessing information is empowering and builds a stronger and more connected generation, but it also further adds to the complicated emotions that these young people are likely to experience. 
    As we consider how to make our services relevant for the youth in this post COVID world, we recognise that our emotions and our overall mental health is at a tipping point. One thing that staunchly remains as a barrier during this time is the stigma around mental health issues. Yes, we might be slowly placing this as a higher agenda both in corporate and government agendas to help resource, lead conversations. But when it comes down to one individual in pain, struggling - the ability to openly share with family and friends, to confront the long waiting lines and wade through the options of where to seek for help and the subsequent worry about whether or not this would affect one's ability to keep working, or stay in school or just be “normal” becomes all too real and suddenly, getting help, telling people about their struggle is no longer a viable option. 
    In a survey KELY Support Group released earlier this year, we asked 1352 young people about their struggles and journeys seeking help 1.5 year after COVID-19 - the result is devastating. 51% rated themselves as being more than somewhat stressed when asked about their current emotional status; 60% did not seek help for their mental health conditions, and of those who do, 57% seek help only sometimes. 
    We see it all too often. When young people find themselves in such a difficult place and are unable to express themselves fully, that's when coping mechanisms become the crutch. That’s when things like alcohol or drugs enter as a perceived possibility to help “ease the pain” or “pass the time” so that living becomes easier. It is possible that young people might have tried other ways to cope, but what we also see is how often and how much media and pop culture and even societal norms advertise substances as a solution. As an example, the phrase “drink your problems away” appears in multiple facets of everyday life from song lyrics, to movie quotes, slogans and commonplace sayings between friends. The same goes for the use of drugs to “have a good time” - both of which become attractive possible solutions despite potentially harmful long term implications. 
    Substance abuse is a complicated issue and we need to continually be adjusting our approaches so as to ensure that prevention education work remains relevant and impactful despite the ever-changing environment.
    One thing we have seen throughout our work with youth across our programmes is a more open attitude towards vulnerable sharing and being more open to talk about genuine experiences in mental health and other challenges. We are always grateful to hear how our youth participants are able to make use of the techniques we teach them to effectively share their lived experiences, express their struggles to get help or support their peers.
    Through our school based work and joint campaigns implemented in conjunction with youth, we see that this generation are educated in how to care about their health and regardless of how they may be seen, they are actually making informed choices and are motivated, like others before them, to find their way to find success and achieve a life that is fulfilling and impactful. It just might not look like what you might expect. Our hope is that we can continually put ourselves into their shoes to effectively achieve our goal in Hong Kong…  to see young people reach their full potential.


    14/08/2022 - 足本 Full (HKT 08:15 - 08:30)

    14/08/2022 - Cindy Ng, Senior Manager of Programmes & Services, KELY Support Group

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