Hong Kong Shing Kung Hui Lady MacLehose Centre (HKSKH), our local partner, has launched the “Voices of Children” Shek Lei group in their Sunshine Neighbourhood Centre. It aims at exploring the present conditions, issues and solutions to improve the community facilities in Shek Lei. Children participants then converted their understandings to drawings and models and consolidated their opinions through dialogues with professional collaborators. They then voiced out their opinions about the local playgrounds to district councillors and aspired to actualise children voices in the community.
Children recruitment started in the midst of severe COVID-19 pandemics. In order to align with the precaution measures and balance the progress of children recruitment, HKSKH organised a series of online activities for children who came from the family they served—“Zoom to Travel around the World”, “Community Quiz Competition”,etc. These activities offered opportunities to children to travel around the world to “visit” the playground facilities at different places and understand the issues in their community without leaving home under the pandemic. Finally, fifteen children aged 7-12 were recruited.
Children participants were named “Shek Lei Junior Community Officers”. They were empowered as important individuals and encouraged to care about their community. Since the Concern Group was under the volatility of COVID-19 at the early stage, face-to-face and online workshops were both arranged to empower the Junior Community Officers to ideate the blueprints of their ideal playgrounds.
Through activities such as the “Kwai Chung Trail”, ”Community Spatial Tour” and “District Councillors and Me”, which made use of a Trail Journal and an online “touring” workshop, the Shek Lei Junior Community Officers got to know different areas and identified the problems in their community. Children also worked with City Planners to fabricate their ideal community with Lego blocks according to urban planning principles. Finally, they were arranged to voice out the elements of their ideal playgrounds to the district councillors.
Through online virtual reality maps, children were able to visit the community and to provide solutions to improve their community. Through various tools such as community design worksheets and legos, children were able to learn about the community’s needs and raise suggestions. These suggestions earned city planners’ comments as enlightenment and showed in the event named Design for Ideal Community Exhibition cum Press Launch. Many guests and community stakeholders joined the event and actively gave opinions about children’s community design.
Activities are proceeding. Updates will be posted soon.