OneSky supports vulnerable families through the ongoing Covid pandemic in Hong Kong

The recent fifth wave of the Covid pandemic has severely affected the most vulnerable members of the Hong Kong community. And, In areas like Sham Shui Po, where the P. C. Lee OneSky Global Centre for Early Childhood Development is located, OneSky’s Family Mentors are helping to serve low-income families as best they can.

Families like that of 5-year-old Tung Tung, who all tested positive for Covid.

Unexpectantly forced into isolation in their cramped Sham Shui Po apartment, the little girl, her elder brother and mother did not have sufficient food, test kits, or medical supplies to get through their quarantine.

“We had no rapid antigen test kits so I dared not go out,” Tung Tung’s mother recalled. “We were running out of food at home and I felt so helpless. I didn’t know what to do.”

In desperation, she reached out to OneSky’s Family Mentors for help.

When OneSky’s Family Mentors heard of the family’s difficulties, they gathered together items for Tung Tung, her brother and mother, including Covid test kits, food and cleaning supplies and delivered them to their home.

The Family Mentors kept in close contact with Tung Tung and her family, to help them cope throughout the quarantine period. They provided the two children with fun, online learning activities.

“I was really touched. In such a severe environment, OneSky Family Mentors never gave up on us,” Tung Tung’s mother said.

With the generous support of community partners and donors, OneSky has been able to distribute emergency supplies to Sham Shui Po families in need to help them through this very difficult time.

Like many, Tung Tung’s family was isolated due the current Covid outbreak. Crowded living conditions and lack of childcare support has brought great distress to affected families, particularly in regards to the children’s learning and personal development.

OneSky’s Senior Family Mentor Yannis Chan noted: “The pandemic has posed great challenges to children’s growth. We have tried to help as best we can by providing emotional support in addition to the material supplies.”

“We have offered parents support in storytelling, how to play-at-home, parenting tips, and other information to support their caregiving needs. Looking at it from a different angle, we have tried to help parents and caregivers to use quarantine as a positive time for the family.”

Throughout the pandemic, OneSky Family Mentors have continuously adapted and remained connected with the families, like that of Tung Tung — providing emotional and daily support —virtually and in-person as circumstances allow.

Hindered by the Pandemic Transformed with Unlimited Care and Love

When we first met 4-year-old Tintin at the P. C. Lee OneSky Global Centre for Early Childhood Development he hid behind his mother yet curiously looked around, his eyes sparkling. Although he wasn’t willing to speak, his smile always glowed like the moon. Tintin’s mother expressed her concerns to the Centre’s Family Mentors regarding Tintin’s recent diagnosis of developmental delays. Compounding the problem, because of the pandemic, he hadn’t had many opportunities to interact with peers or play outside—all crucial to his reaching his potential.

The Sham Shui Po area, where he lives, lacks safe and clean playing facilities. Now that he is able to attend the Centre, he is benefiting from unlimited support, including accompaniment, consultation and remediation by his devoted Family Mentor, Suki. Suki also worked with Tintin’s mother to learn how to help Tintin express his needs more clearly. Working together, they have gradually witnessed Tintin transform from a quiet child hiding behind his mother, to a lively, energetic boy greeting his Family Mentors courageously.

His mother also reported feeling supported and more confident in her parenting skills. Thanks to implementing the OneSky Approach, she now has better interactions with her son and has learned the value of responsive care. “It has been a joy to watch them both grow and transform together,” said Suki.

Recently, Tintin participated in the sports day at his kindergarten. He tried really hard, but he didn’t win any of the competitions. When he returned home, he told his mother how disappointed he was. Apart from his sadness, Tintin’s mother was so happy that he was able to share his feelings so she could teach him how to manage his sadness in a positive and constructive way. Tintin’s mother explained to him that participation is more important than winning, and to celebrate Tintin’s participation in the sports day, they made a medal together.

One day, Tintin seemed especially nervous. Family Mentors wondered why he was so anxious. But then they figured out the reason once he took a deep breath, walked towards Suki and presented her with a gift. She was touched that he made her a paper bracelet on his own and expressed his feelings by drawing. “It represents his heartfelt thanks to OneSky; and how much he treasures his friendship with Suki,” said his mother.

“Hello Suki!” … Those two words sound like music to Suki’s ears when spoken so confidently by Tintin. “We embrace his growth and transformation. What is engraved in our heart is always his genuine, lovely smile from ear to ear!” she said.

OneSky’s 10th Annual Charity Hike held despite pandemic-related challenges

Despite all the challenges faced to hold the hike, we finally made it happen. On 13 Nov 2021, over 230 #OneSkyHikingHeroes of all ages joined our fun, family-friendly event under the beautiful sunshine! The hike could not have happened without all of our incredible corporate donors including: Avery Dennison, CLSA, EQUINIX Women Leaders Network, Impact Products, Nan Fung Group, and PwC; our NGO partner Sprouts Foundation; and a group of committed individual donors, volunteers, and staff. An enormous thank you to all who joined and supported OneSky’s 10th Annual Charity Hike in Hong Kong!

“The charity hike was a great success! We enjoyed every minute of it and hope all children grow up healthy, safe, and happy,” said Nan Fung Group, a long-term supporter of the hike.

“Thank you again for making this meaningful and great event happen this year. Our young kids were keen to join and they enjoyed it very much. They were also grateful to be able to raise funds for other kids at OneSky,” said Sprouts Foundation, an NGO partner of OneSky.

Your support means that our professional and dedicated caregivers can continue their critical work providing nurturing care and love to vulnerable young children in China, Vietnam, Mongolia, and at The P. C. Lee OneSky Global Centre for Early Childhood Development in Hong Kong.

Thanks to your active participation. We hope to see you again at next year’s hike!

Inaugural Butterfly-Themed Graduation Ceremony Encourages Kids to “Fly” to their Potential

The inaugural OneSky Graduation Ceremony in Hong Kong was recently organized for families with children who turned 6 years old and are now ready to leave the P.C. Lee OneSky Global Centre for Early Childhood Development.

The butterfly-themed ceremony was filled with warmth and love through specially designed interactive games. Participants were asked to express their feelings and join hands with Family Mentors to decorate and design the Interactive Playground.

Family Mentors discussed a story of a butterfly and invited children to share their thoughts.

OneSky children, aged 0-6, receive love and care, developing alongside their family members through the responsive care approach. When they turn 6, they are “graduated” from OneSky, ready to spread their wings and fly like butterflies.

The event started with an engaging story about the evolution of a butterfly. Family Mentors then asked the children to hunt for hidden paper butterflies in the forest-themed interactive playground. The mentors explained that the butterflies are reflective of one’s uniqueness and identity, symbolizing that the children gradually evolve in the process of child development.

Caregivers and children were inspired by an interactive game about the evolution of a butterfly.

We then asked the caregivers and children to express their feelings towards their family members, Family Mentors, or the OneSky Global Centre by writing them on a paper butterfly. Families shared their heartfelt thanks to our Centre which provides a safe space for the kids to grow, explore and learn accompanied by trained caregivers. This is exactly what the Sham Shui Po area is lacking.

“Thank you, OneSky! We had an unforgettable family time at OneSky with family mentors who are all caring and energetic.” Participants expressed their feelings towards OneSky on paper butterflies.

The ceremony provided a perfect opportunity for the families to let their creativity flow. They decorated the playground with paper butterflies and gave a heart-warming vibe to the playground. Through training in the OneSky Approach, we offer help to caregivers to develop children’s holistic development. Growing up brightly like a butterfly with uniqueness, OneSky children are ready to walk their path, spread their wings, and fly after they “graduated” from OneSky’s program in Hong Kong.

The paper butterflies filled with heartfelt thanks from the families has become one of the most loving decoration at the Centre.

The P. C. Lee OneSky Global Centre for Early Childhood Development offers a safe and educational playground for vulnerable children, aged 0-6, and their caregivers. The goal of the Centre is to help children reach their potential through a responsive care approach. Click HERE to learn more.

The Training Hub – helping to expand the capacity and quality of childcare in Hong Kong

At the heart of the P. C. Lee OneSky Global Centre for Early Childhood Development is the Training Hub, offering training programs for both professionals and parents using cutting-edge theory on early brain development. The innovative teaching methods unite children and adults on a new learning journey.

Since opening in Hong Kong a year ago, during the pandemic and various lockdowns, OneSky’s training focus has been on supporting parents.

Our training is interactive and suitable for all parents or caregivers of young children. It includes responsive care, building secure attachment, child development, and play-based learning.

For Jasmina Wadhwani, OneSky’s Director of Global Programs, the past 12 months have been remarkable, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It has been an incredible year for our training program,” said Jasmina. “The year has passed so fast, and it has been a joy training and watching the parents grow in their learning and being able to use our teaching with their children at home.”

Parents like Jessica — who has a 2-year-old boy — have found the Centre to be a refuge. In between lockdowns she and her son visited the Family Centre in person to play while she also participated in family training.

She told OneSky: “I am so happy to have been able to participate in the parenting course offered by OneSky. It has enabled me to absorb so much practical knowledge as well as being able to enjoy a new, safe and rich playground with my child.”

Jessica and her son are among many who have directly benefited from OneSky’s training and its lasting impact on both caregivers and children, which began more than 20 years ago with OneSky’s groundbreaking work in China’s orphanages and rural villages.

Today, thousands of more lives are being changed in Hong Kong, Mongolia and Vietnam, thanks to OneSky’s mission of training communities and caregivers.

“It’s very heartwarming when the teacher remembers my child each time we are together,” added Jessica. “I love that during lessons we learn so much from small details to the big picture information.”

The OneSky Global Centre now partners with ten NGOs, including PathFinders and the Music Children Foundation, to recruit vulnerable families to join OneSky’s parent training.

The ultimate goal of the Training Hub is to offer training programs for professionals, as well as parents, using best practices in early childhood education.

As a training organization, OneSky’s mission is to support the systems of care in Hong Kong that are so vital to growing a healthy, happy society for tomorrow. It’s a new pioneering journey, using the proven OneSky Approach, that has only just begun in Hong Kong.

One year on, the vision and bravery at the heart of OneSky Global Centre

By Susanna Lee, Executive Director of the OneSky Global Centre

I grew up in Sham Shui Po, near what is now the P.C. Lee OneSky Global Centre for Early Childhood Development. Back then it was still a secondary school but that would ultimately close and the building would fall into disrepair.

My family lived in a small apartment. My parents, younger sister, and I shared a set of bunk beds, and, at the heart of our home, was a small collapsible table. It was used for meals and for watching TV but I invariably sat underneath it. It was part of my imaginary games — my little kingdom.

I recently asked my mother why I had never attended childcare. It turns out the first obstacle was the waiting list. Then, when a place finally became available, my mother visited and was shocked by what she saw. A dozen babies watched over by a single caregiver, with no time for play or nurturing.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Sham Shui Po has needed a place like OneSky’s Global Centre for my whole life.

But, as fate would have it when the Global Centre finally opened it was during a once-in-a-century occurrence – a global pandemic. While the vision of all involved was remarkable, it was matched by inspirational bravery and perseverance. Do you remember that creeping fear we were all feeling one year ago in the early months of 2020?

Susanna Lee, Executive Director of the OneSky Global Centre

At the time I was OneSky’s Hong Kong Director of Development, I am now proud to be the center’s Executive Director. Having observed all the hard work that was required to open the centre, I am grateful for the vision that led to its achievement.

It was a vision that came to light thanks to Jenny Bowen, OneSky’s founder. Jenny imagined the center as a place that was equal parts love and learning. A place where children could find a better start to life and where caregivers, parents, and partner NGOs could learn best practices in Early Childhood Education.

The center would serve as a hub to share cutting-edge theories on early brain development and teaching methods.

It was a dream that the Lee family shared too. They believed in Jenny and her vision. Their donation allowed us to begin building the dream, their gift is an investment in the future of Hong Kong’s children and it is truly fitting that the center carries their name.

Jenny’s enthusiasm for the project was contagious. A steering committee, a campaign committee, partner NGOs, and hardworking board members, all contributed so much.

So many people gave knowing this was what Sham Shui Po so desperately needed.

And it happened. This beautiful center. This inspirational, bright, love-filled space. To watch children explore it has been such a joy. Released from the constraints of small, subdivided homes, their energy is restored and their imaginations fed.

And now here we are in May 2021, a year on from opening in the toughest circumstances imaginable. Sometimes we still need to take a moment to look around at what has been achieved and feel a genuine sense of pride.

Because, 12 months ago, as Hong Kong counted Covid-19 cases and we fearfully scanned the news, our dedicated team continued as best they could. As they worked socially distanced or online, lockdown brought us all a fresh reminder of just how many of Hong Kong’s children have so little space.

Despite it all, in the last year we’ve registered 437 children and 496 caregivers as centre members. Community training has included nine events with 87 families attending. We have engaged with 57 local organizations, most of whom have visited the centre, and commenced training partnerships with two. The reach is growing and as Hong Kong emerges from the pandemic, our horizons are widening.

This is an investment in children, in parents, in good childcare, in expertise.

Because a better start for our children means a better future for all our communities.

Thank you to all who made it happen.

The incredible supporters who share OneSky’s vision for a better future

Inspired by great names, helped by good friends, and grateful for so much kindness.

We are so deeply grateful to the many generous individuals and organisations who, from the very start, have supported OneSky to bring love and nurturing care to the most vulnerable children and families of Hong Kong.

Almost exactly two years ago OneSky founder and then CEO Jenny Bowen met with Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Alongside her was OneSky Board Member Stella Lee.

The meeting was a milestone and, about a year later, carrying the name of Stella’s father, the P. C. Lee OneSky Global Centre for Early Childhood Development opened in Sham Shui Po, one of Hong Kong’s poorest neighbourhoods.

The late P. C. Lee was born in Changsha, Hunan and was the oldest of six children. He left school at the age of 11 but never stopped learning, going on to enjoy a remarkable career in banking and shipping in Hong Kong.

Through their commitment to the OneSky Global Centre, Stella and her family support their father’s legacy and OneSky’s vision to provide access to loving, nurturing care and quality early education for the children of Hong Kong.

Elsewhere, the desire to reach Hong Kong’s most vulnerable young children has also inspired strong corporate support.

Working together – Generali and OneSky

Our friends at Generali told us that OneSky’s desire to help families meant we were the perfect match for The Human Safety Net, their global philanthropic platform. Essential support has also come from the Hong Kong branch of Bank Julius Baer & Co. Ltd, Barclays Capital Asia Ltd and Baring Private Equity Asia.

Jean Salata and his family at the opening ceremony of the OneSky Global Centre

Baring’s support for OneSky goes back over 15 years. Jean Salata, Chief Executive and Founding Partner was a patron of the center’s Capital Campaign, which raised the funds to open the Centre in May last year.

We asked him why he was now so passionate about supporting OneSky. 

“It is easy for people to forget that while Hong Kong is a city with significant resources, there still are many children and families with unserved needs,” he told us. “The Hong Kong center is a tremendous step to help meet those needs and be a pillar of the community.”

He added: “Our philanthropy program has a specific focus on underprivileged children, particularly in the areas where we work and live. It has been so meaningful to us to support OneSky all these years and watch it grow and evolve and greatly improve the lives of children.”

OneSky also recognises the contribution of so many individuals and incredible friends who have helped fund specific parts of the centre or provided general funding. We thank you all. 

If you would like to talk to OneSky about how you or your organisation can support OneSky in Hong Kong, please get in touch witg Jackaline Chow, Associate Director of Development.

BPEA – a shining light for OneSky during the pandemic’s darkest hours

When the pandemic hit in 2020, OneSky for all children struggled to balance urgent increased need with limited resources. Baring Private Equity Asia (BPEA) stepped up with senior staff even donating their salaries for the cause.

For OneSky and the children it serves, their kindness was a shining light at a very dark time.

It followed a decade and a half, during which BPEA has been a true friend to OneSky and to Asia’s children. It’s a relationship that started with helping China’s left-behind children.

BPEA Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer Patrick Cordes explains:

Q. How did BPEA first make a connection with OneSky?

Before even beginning a formal philanthropy program, BPEA began supporting the OneSky Guangzhou location. That support started around 15 years ago, and the relationship with OneSky has only broadened and deepened since, making OneSky a core long-term component of the BPEA philanthropic program.

Q. And what was it about OneSky’s work that interested you?

When we first visited the Guangzhou location we started to understand the vast need for children left behind.  We then began supporting just that one facility, which was close in proximity and where we could go and see the results every year.  But as the organization grew and evolved into a teaching and development organization, providing the software to complement the hardware often in place throughout China, we understood the power of the new model and the vastly increased reach and ability to help as many children as possible.

Jean Salata and his family at the opening ceremony of the OneSky Global Centre

Q. With the opening of the OneSky centre, how do you think OneSky can best help Hong Kong? What are Hong Kong’s current and future challenges?

The opening of the Hong Kong centre, which was directly supported by our founder and CEO Jean Eric Salata, was a critical next step in the organization’s development, centering the organization while also creating a facility to help those in need in Hong Kong. It is easy for people to forget that while Hong Kong is a city with significant resources, there still are many children and families with significant unserved needs. The Hong Kong center is a tremendous step to help meet those needs and be a pillar of the community.

Q. OneSky was amongst those benefiting from BPEA’s assistance during the COVID crisis – what was it so important to BPEA to step up and provide help?

Given the severity of the crisis, senior members of our team gave up their salary, and we created a specific Covid relief fund. The first place we looked to help was within our core philanthropy program.  In the case of OneSky, the needs were clear with significant extra costs required for critical cleaning and protective equipment.

Q.Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Our philanthropy program has a specific focus on underprivileged children, particularly in the areas where we work and live. It has been so meaningful to us to support OneSky all these years and watch it grow and evolve and greatly improve the lives of children.

Donate your “Asia Miles” to support OneSky’s work across Asia.

An exciting new partnership with Cathay Pacific means members of the airline’s loyalty program, Asia Miles, can now help vulnerable children in OneSky’s care receive the best possible start in life.

With air miles accumulating due to restrictions on travel, members of Asia Miles can now donate their reward points to support OneSky programs in mainland ChinaHong Kong S.A.R, Mongolia and Vietnam.

OneSky believes it’s every child’s right to have full access to loving, nurturing care and quality early education. The gifts bought will be used by children cared for by OneSky trained nannies and caregivers.

13,990 Asia Miles will provide building blocks to encourage imaginative play 

4,660 Asia Miles will provide storybooks to spark a lifelong love of reading

9,320 Asia Miles will provide easels for art to improve coordination and inspire creativity

OneSky CEO Morgan Lance said: “We are honored to be chosen by Cathay Pacific and delighted that frequent flyers can give so easily to children in OneSky’s care. We want to give the very young and vulnerable the best possible start to their lives with loving, nurturing care.

“Whether you choose to buy books, easels, or building blocks, donating miles helps OneSky to support a child’s development. There is no better investment!”