CityU nurtures social innovators with over HK$15 million funding from The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust
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City University of Hong Kong (CityU) has received over HK$15 million in funding from The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust (the Trust) for programmes that can develop students into more empathic social innovators.
Students on the programmes will be encouraged to create novel solutions that meet social needs and create social values that help build a more inclusive, sustainable and prosperous society.
The donation from the Trust will fund a three-year CityU project titled “Jockey Club Enhancing Youth Empathy Project through Immersive Visualisation” (the Project).
The Project aims to enhance student skills and capabilities and develop innovative solutions for real-life problems through visualisation technology. In addition, students will develop their empathy for the nature and environment, the elderly and disabled, and ethnic minority groups.
Led by the Office of the Vice-President (Development and External Relations) at CityU, the project, which is coordinated by cross-disciplinary teams, comprises three related programmes – Companions of Social Inclusion (COSI); Technologies for the Elderly and Disabled People by Youths (TEDY); and Walking with Omura’s Whale Project (WOW).
Professor Matthew Lee Kwok-on, Vice-President (Development and External Relations), said he appreciated the support of the Trust in nurturing young people as empathic social innovators.
“Both CityU and the Trust share the same mission in youth development. Thanks to their support, the Project can utilise CityU’s strengths in immersive visualisation technology and cultivate greater empathy among young people in Hong Kong on various social issues,” he said.
“The students will make use of what they have learned on the programmes to create something beneficial for society, such as educational apps that promote nature conservation, rehabilitation aids for the elderly or the disabled, and virtual reality-based scenarios that boost social inclusion,” Professor Lee added.
Ms Winnie Ying, Executive Manager, Charities (Grant Making – Youth, Education & Training, Poverty) of The Hong Kong Jockey Club, said the Project would bring manifold benefits to society in line with the Trust’s youth strategies for capacity building, promoting multiple pathways, social connectedness and youth–adult partnerships, as well as empowering today’s young people as change-makers.
“The Project will help cultivate positive values and helping behaviours, improve technical and soft skills, and promote social connectedness and a change-making spirit among the younger generation,” Ms Ying added.
TEDY, led by Dr Lam Miu-ling, Assistant Professor of the School of Creative Media, aims at cultivating in students a stronger sense of social responsibility and empathic understanding for the elderly and people living with disabilities. The students will work closely with NGOs to create custom-designed rehabilitation aids for the elderly or people with disabilities to help them solve daily problems, improve physical and emotional well-being, and assist in living more independently.
For example, at the first TEDY Makeathon which was held at Run Run Shaw Creative Media Centre between 9 and 11 June, participating students created a lifting system within 72 hours for a person to self-transfer to or from a wheelchair more easily. The equipment will help wheelchair users with limited mobility to move more independently and with greater convenience.
COSI is led by Professor Horace Ip Ho-shing, Vice-President (Student Affairs) and Director of the Centre for Innovative Applications of Internet and Multimedia Technologies. The programme aims to provide a series of workshops that can foster young people’s cognitive understanding and empathy towards ethnic minority groups in order to improve social inclusion. The 3D virtual reality learning environment for minority groups that the students create will help to nurture coping skills that can minimise difficulties faced in daily life.
Through the process of “perspective-taking”, the learning environment cultivates among local young people greater empathy towards the life experiences, challenges and special needs of local minority groups.
The WOW programme, led by Dr Richard Brown, Associate Director of the School of Veterinary Medicine, aims to create multimedia presentations, mobile apps and games about the oceanic life of an Omura’s whale by using a mix of virtual and augmented reality technologies. CityU possesses the complete skeleton of an Omura’s whale, which was obtained after the body of such a whale washed up in Hong Kong waters in 2014.
This activity can enrich students’ knowledge about the environment that the Omura’s Whale lives in, and draw attention to the marine pollution, human interaction, and construction work that the whale may face. They will also act as “Ocean Ambassadors” who promote empathy for the environment and nature in schools and the community.