OneSkyHeroes: Why OneSky will always have my support – Karen Koh

Broadcaster, journalist and media trainer Karen Koh believes love and care in a child’s early years is vital – that’s why, she tells us, she believes in OneSky.

Q. How did you first hear about OneSky and what was it about our cause that moved you enough to become a part of it?

“I actually heard about OneSky when it was still called Half the Sky and I think I originally heard about it through parents at my kids’ school. For me, what was most important was learning about the attention paid to those really early years. As a parent, you know that this kind of bonding and care makes such a big difference. You know how much those first few years help build a child’s confidence and self-esteem, independence and resilience.

“I like the way OneSky operates in terms of training others because really that’s the best way to become sustainable. So that was it, when I heard about the work you were doing I thought – wow! OneSky is doing a great job using the right kind of methods that will last and have a great impact.”

Q. You’ve long given your time and expertise to a number of causes and issues. Why is giving back so important to you?

“Firstly, I have the capacity. I feel like I’ve had a very fortunate life experience and have benefited from being able to do so many things. It’s important to give back to your community. Especially if you have the skills, or you just have a platform to give a voice to others.

“We can help people achieve something and that does make your life a little more meaningful. It is so much more satisfying than just working and doing everything entirely for yourself.”

Q. OneSky believes early childhood development is an investment in future adults who will benefit our global community. How do you think your upbringing impacted who you are now and what you do?

“My childhood absolutely did impact. Hugely. When I think back to when I was very little I was often apart from my parents who were new migrants to Australia. Both my parents worked, so when I was in preschool, there was someone I called my godmother who would pick me up and take me to their house. She’d feed me and I’d play with her dogs.

“She was English and was just so kind. I always felt safe and I was happy to go there every day. Knowing that there’s somebody there for you, who is not just going to take care of you but does it in a way that’s loving and connected and supportive is just such an important thing. I think it gave me confidence, helped me communicate and gave me the ability to talk to different people.

“All these things are so important and they’re not the type of things you learn in school. You learn these skills from being with people.”

Q. As an experienced presenter with the likes of CNN and the BBC, how did it feel to be working with OneSky colleagues in our first gala broadcast? How did they do?

“I have to say the OneSky team were amazing. I’ve been in many many TV studios over the years and of course this was a first-time, quite complicated, virtual event. Watching at home, you don’t really know what it’s like at the other end and there’s so much going on behind the scenes.

“In the control room, there were probably around 15 people. There were so many elements and it was complex because we had the green screen, we had several live studio guests, several more Zoom guests and the live pledge.

“But everything was so well organized. The rehearsal took twice as long as the actual show because we had to make sure everybody knew when to walk in, walk off, and where to look. But on the night it went really smoothly. It just felt very very professional and everyone was so supportive.”

Q.If you could make a wish come true for Hong Kong’s children, what would it be?

“I just wish there was a level playing field for everybody. I wish everyone could have the same opportunities. Obviously, we don’t live in a perfect world but I think whatever we can do to give every kid a chance, with great education, a great family life and great opportunities, we should do it.

“Hong Kong is a wealthy society with huge disparities. It’s not a simple thing to solve but there are definitely ways that we can all help to make Hong Kong more equitable for those less fortunate.”

Children and parents experience OneSky’s new Family Centre in Hong Kong

It’s hard to say who lockdown has been hardest on — stressed parents or their young children stuck inside Hong Kong’s infamously compact homes.

But, 14 families recently had the chance to enjoy a special open space filled with educational toys, games, swings and climbing frames.

That space is the newly opened Family Centre at the P. C. Lee OneSky Global Centre for Early Childhood Development in Sham Shui Po. The event was a Community Day set up to promote OneSky Parenting Training workshops, launching to local families this month.

On this occasion, moms and dads joined a 15-minute parenting talk in English and Cantonese, then spent time enjoying a facilitated play session with their children and OneSky Family Mentors.

The brand-new Family Centre includes an indoor playground, wet room, access to books, videos and counselling services.

“This was just a brief taster of Parenting Training,” said Cordelia Au, OneSky Associate Director of Community Partnerships. “But we were able to talk about observing, interpreting and responding to children which is at the heart of the OneSky Approach.”

The Family Centre will also serve as a community gathering space where children (up to age six) and their caregivers can play and learn together.

Families with children of this age, living in a designated area of Sham Shui Po, can register as members. Registered members are able to book facilitated play sessions, participate in parenting skills workshops, and access consultation and referral services. Residents living outside the service boundary may attend parenting skills workshops.

For more information, please visit the centre or call 3598 9338 during office hours.

While 2020 has been a difficult year for all, parents and young children have suffered disproportionately. The pandemic has affected work availability as well as childcare and outlets for play.

But OneSky is determined to help.

“The centre is a safe, friendly space for children and parents where they can enjoy the space, access assistance and be a part of a community facing the same challenges,” said Cordelia.

“In the meantime, we have received so much positive feedback from our invited guests and watched the children have so much fun. Children need to play and that requires space – that’s a premium for so many in Hong Kong, particularly this year with public play spaces having been closed.”

 

OneSkyHeroes – Generali believes in the importance of families, that’s why it believes in OneSky

A passionate partnership in Hong Kong – Generali finds a kindred spirit in OneSky

Generali’s reach is global with a presence in over 50 countries. But its Italian roots and culture are still evident. For Josi Chiang, Head of Generali’s The Human Safety Net program (THSN) in Hong Kong, that was why it first recognized OneSky for All Children (OneSky) as a potential partner.

“As an Italian company, Generali holds true to its roots. We value the importance of families and of the time they spend together,” said Josi.

“So, when we were looking to launch our local THSN program as part of Generali’s global movement, families were always at the forefront of our thinking.”

Josi Chiang, center

“We were looking for a local NGO that assists vulnerable families in Hong Kong with emphasis on very young children. The formative years are when children develop their social, cognitive and physical skills and that’s the time we think we can make the most difference.”

To this end, THSN has pledged to fund OneSky’s Family Centre in Sham Shui Po for children aged 0-6 and their Family Mentors who are essential to providing loving and responsive care to the children. The partnership will include supporting the development of OneSky’s program in the center and volunteering by local Generali employees.

Photo credit: Vicky Chan, Avoid Obvious Architects

For OneSky’s Director of Development in Hong Kong, Susanna Lee, Generali’s passion and energy has been very inspiring. It’s clear it will be an exciting partnership.

Susanna joined a two-day THSN workshop with Generali staff recently and left elated.

“I just felt so energized and moved by their commitment. It’s impossible not to look forward and imagine what we can achieve together,” said Susanna. “There was so much passion and creativity in the room.”

Susanna Lee

Also looking ahead, Josi believes the partnership will mean a better future for Hong Kong’s most vulnerable children.

“Hong Kong is a developed city, but at the same time, space is a problem and inequality is huge. One-fifth of the city’s population lives below the poverty line and many are living in cramped homes without any space to grow and play.”

It’s a huge challenge but Generali is keen to play their part in bringing lasting change.

Generali and OneSky staff.

“It is disheartening to see so many lacking opportunities and having such a difficult start in life,” added Josi. “We believe everyone should have a real chance. OneSky knows that they can help children by providing space to play and grow, and help develop skills with love and care.

“In doing so they are assisting families as well as our future communities. Hopefully, this vicious cycle of poverty can be broken.”

Even before social distancing, Hong Kong kids needed more safe space

In 2018, when my son was two, we began this project for OneSky in Sham Shui Po and he helped color in the floor plans. A year later he saw the plans animated and even visited the site.

Of course, he was excited about the play equipment but he especially loved the big windows.

In 2020, aged four, he finally got to attend the opening. My decision to share the process with him had been spontaneous but it turned out to be very special, not least because our world has changed so much in this short time.

Now, in July 2020, Hong Kong is experiencing another Covid-19 surge. Public spaces have proven to be highly important to maintain social distance. In Sham Shui Po, subdivided flats suffer their own lack of space with all the physical and emotional stress that entails.

WATCH: See architect Vicky Chan visit the OneSky Global Centre with his son and his friend.

In the meantime, schools have closed early for summer vacation. K-1 students have been stuck at home since January. Keeping children engaged until school opens again is vital for their own development. It also helps parents and reduces conflict. I know it is not easy to deal with a very active child 24/7.

Pandemic preparation is not something we had planned in 2018 when we started out, but surface treatments in the center were designed with wellbeing in mind. Its large play area with big open windows will keep children in the neighborhood engaged, safe and healthy.

When children finally entered the site, it was so much fun for them to explore. They loved the windows. They let in so much light and allowed the child to build their own relationship with the space.

For me the site is special. Among my memories are the many human touches that make it work. During construction, the contractor had difficulty attempting to create the curvy line along both sides of the stairs. My team and I went and hand painted the guiding line for them to trace. It worked beautifully. Being hands-on made it feel very different to the digital approach of modern architecture.

Recently I climbed the nearby mountain and looked back down onto the OneSky building on its historical corner of Sham Shui Po. The neighborhood is changing.  Newly developed private residences mean space is further consumed while others are displaced.

My wish for the OneSky building is for it to remain humble and continue to serve as the guardian. I believe it will transform the neighborhood in a positive way for all.

Find out more about the P. C. Lee OneSky Global Centre for Early Childhood Development and how it brings together children, families and caregivers to play, learn and train while creating a better future for vulnerable children in Hong Kong.

A new future for early childhood care and education in Asia

After years of planning and with the support of visionary foundations, corporations and individuals the P. C. Lee OneSky Global Centre for Early Childhood Development (the Center) has opened in Hong Kong.

As a global training organization with a mission to teach communities and caregivers to provide nurturing responsive care and early education that unlocks the vast hidden potential in our world’s most vulnerable children, we couldn’t be more excited.

Our new regional training hub for global best practices in early childhood care and education (ECCE) will build a community of childcare professionals and paraprofessionals, scaling the reach of our work across Hong Kong and Asia, ensuring even more vulnerable children have an equal start in life.

Following an extensive two-year needs assessment, the OneSky Global Centre for Early Childhood Development was conceived in partnership with the. P. C. Lee family who, in honoring their late father’s compassion, kindness and love of learning, are helping to build a more equitable future for marginalized children in Hong Kong.

In Hong Kong, despite the city’s prosperity, one in five children lives in poverty*. If these vulnerable children enter mainstream schools without quality ECCE, the chance of them realizing their full potential is limited.

The Center will be a community gathering place where children, ages 0-6, and their caregivers can play and learn together. And, in partnership with the D. H. Chen Foundation, we will bring NGOs, academics and social services to the Centre to share best practices and current research in early childhood care and education.

This monumental achievement could not have occurred without the support and encouragement of our family of donors around the world. Thank you.

*Hong Kong Poverty Situation Report 2018 – pre-intervention rate by age.

OneSky Hikers – thank you so very much

By Jenny Bowen, OneSky Founder & CEO

At OneSky we often talk about changing young lives, “one child at a time”.

It’s an absolutely accurate statement. In order to reach young children at a very young age, you have to be able to build a relationship with them. That can only be achieved individually between the caregiver and the child.

It’s at the heart of everything we do. It is, in essence, the OneSky Approach, that focuses on human beings and relies on skilled and loving human interaction between children and those who care for them.

Likewise in order to make this happen, we need to reach out to friends. We need to explain what we do and hope you are as inspired by our work as we are.

It’s YOUR support that enables us to give child after child a future. Together we can provide a start in life that can never be taken away.

And that support grows, “one friend at a time”. We’ve seen it played out over recent months ahead of the hike. It’s been a hard year for Hong Kong, it was easy to briefly imagine that our own cause could be overlooked.

But hiker after hiker signed up. Whole groups joined the cause. Then on Sunday, there you all were – over 400 friends of all ages, enjoying a beautiful day in the sunshine. Each of you wanting to play your part in helping young and vulnerable children throughout Asia.

Step by step through Hong Kong’s beautiful trails you were there for us. Our OneSky family.

Hong Kong is set to play a major role in OneSky’s future. We are excited that the P. C. Lee OneSky Global Centre for Early Childhood Development will open in Sham Shui Po next year. There will be a Family Centre and an Early Learning Hub offering high-quality care for children at risk. These children will be Hong Kong’s future. We will also train trainers from across the region and build educational resources that will benefit thousands more children.

None of this happens by accident. It takes vision and long term commitments from amazing staff. Most importantly, it takes people who believe in what we do.

Thank you for believing. Together we can achieve so much more.

One Hike for OneSky THIS Sunday!

TEN Things you need to know before you set off

We are promised a beautiful day. Middle twenties centigrade, low humidity and the sun shining – it’s going to be a fantastic event.
Here’s what you need to know…

1. Please wear your OneSky t-shirt.

2. Bring your own container and drinks – there is a refill station but not until the finishing line on Shatin Pass Road.

3. Please respect the environment and try and keep any waste to a minimum, dispose of trash responsibility, there will be bins at the finish line.

4. You will also find a First Aid station at the finish line.

5. Participants are responsible for their own belongings – please don’t bring valuables!

6. Know your transportation details in advance and please arrive ON TIME!

7. Please be aware that parking is not available at the starting and finishing points of the trails. Please use public transport.

8. If you’d like to share pictures from the hike on social media – please use the hashtag #OneSkyHike

9. Don’t worry! As long as you keep your wits about you, you can’t get lost. There will be around 40 experienced marshals along both the 7.7 km and 10.5 km trails.

10. Most important of all. Have fun and please, take a moment to remember the children your efforts will help. You are improving young lives. Thank you so very much.

Links:

Hike Information
FAQ
Trails
What you are helping OneSky do.

Why I Love The OneSky Hike – It Teaches My Kids Compassion!

The year’s One Hike for OneSky on November 10, will be Bill Quarless’s fifth, he explains what makes it such an important event for him.

“We love supporting OneSky and the great work the organisation does. We are very happy to play our small part to support the critical work that OneSky does nurturing and caring for the most vulnerable children.

“I especially like the charity hike because I do it with my family and my entire company. My young children understand why we are doing this and I use the event as an opportunity to teach them compassion and giving. My staff are also always eager to participate and give back as a team. We have a friendly fundraising competition with the winner getting a prize and the company matching all the funds raised.”

“I’m usually pretty slow – thanks to the five and six-year-old but generally we all finish as a team. That’s one of the good things about the walk – there are different options that suit all fitness levels. But whatever option you choose, the finish line is an accomplishment – even more so knowing that you’ve achieved something worthwhile as a group. It’s a great day and a fantastic cause.” 

Bill Quarless is the President & CEO of Impact Products.

 


Join us on Sunday, 10 November 2019, for our 9th Annual OneSky Charity Hike

at the beautiful MacLehose Trail in Hong Kong.


 

One Hike for OneSky – SIGN UP TODAY!

Join us on Sunday, 10 November 2019, for our 9th Annual OneSky Charity Hike at the beautiful MacLehose Trail in Hong Kong.

Since 2011, One Hike for OneSky has raised crucial funds, making it possible to train hundreds of caregivers in best practices for providing essential nurturing care, impacting tens of thousands of left-behind children.

SIGN UP TODAY. 

Proceeds of this year’s hike will go towards building a better future for the disadvantaged children of Hong Kong and the Asia Pacific region. With your support and in collaboration with a caring community, OneSky is putting to work lessons learned during 20 years of early intervention to benefit young children at risk, and create the P. C. Lee OneSky Global Centre for Early Childhood Development.

Three different trails (of 3.8 km, 7.7 km and 10.5 km) are geared to different skill levels. So, whether a beginner or an advanced hiker, there is something for everyone. Don’t miss this special day!

Event time: 10:30am – 2:30pm  

Since 2011, the OneSky Charity Hike has raised over HK$8 million through generous individuals and corporate sponsors, and the number of hikers is growing every year!

The funds raised at the hike make it possible for us to train caregivers in our time-tested OneSky Approach across China and Vietnam, as well as support the P.C. Lee OneSky Global Centre for Early Childhood Development in Hong Kong. Your participation will also provide help for the young, at-risk children we serve. Enjoy a day to remember AND change lives!

Enrollment

Enrollment for all trails: Participation Fee + Minimum Fundraising Amount

Each enrolled participant will receive an activity pack on a first-come-first-served basis, including a T-shirt and a souvenir, and an official OneSky e-Certificate of Appreciation and a medal at the end of the hike.

Early-bird deadline: 20 September 2019 (Friday)

Standard registration deadline: 25 October 2019 (Friday)

Minimum fundraising deadline: 1 November 2019 (Friday)

Spots available: 600 participants

Please visit One Hike for OneSky 2019 to sign up or email hike@onesky.org for more details!

SAVE THE DATE: The OneSky Hong Kong Charity Hike

OneSky’s Hong Kong Charity Hike will take place this year on Sunday, November 10, 2019.

The hike has become an unmissable annual event since first taking place in 2011. Walkers can choose one of three beautiful routes of varying difficulty (3.8 km, 7.7 km and 10.5 km) through Hong Kong’s beautiful trails.

Enter as an individual, as a family or with a team.

All the money you raise will help vulnerable young children across Asia. For the first time, this includes Hong Kong with the opening of the P.C. Lee OneSky Global Center for Early Childhood Development later this year.

Keep watching this website and OneSky’s Hong Kong Facebook page for details of how to register and get ready for the race. In the meantime, TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW and make sure you SAVE THE DATE!

You can enjoy a day to remember AND change lives. Your participation means OneSky can help children who vitally need our support. Find out more about OneSky’s work here.

If you have any questions or would like to be a corporate sponsor, please email hike@onesky.org