#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.

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