Introverted Mother Gains Support from Parenthood

Kathy joined as a OneSky family, with her 3-year-old son Ron and 1-year-old daughter Ying-ying, since the Centre was established two years ago. Like many other toddlers who were largely affected by the pandemic, Ron missed crucial opportunities to develop his language and interpersonal abilities. Kathy felt completely helpless to find a solution for these developmental challenges facing her son, and cope with the anxiety caused by financial difficulties and the family’s health.

Kathy recalled the moment when she visited OneSky. “During the facilitated play sessions, Suki, one of the Family Mentors, noticed us and took the initiative to speak with me. It was only when I shared my circumstances with her, I realized I had been using all my efforts to endure and survive all these problems that I had never had a moment to look after myself. I was so grateful for her love and care because I have not felt valued or understood for a very long time.” Suki’s appropriate care and attention made Kathy feel immediately at home. She listened to Kathy like a friend, and recommended her to join the OneSky parenting skills training that would enhance her parenting practices and behaviours. She eagerly put her learning into practice which benefitted Ron’s development significantly. However, Kathy felt extremely frustrated when her friends and family did not appreciate her efforts and new parenting methods. She eagerly put her learning into practice which benefitted Ron’s development significantly. However, Kathy felt extremely frustrated when her friends and family did not appreciate her efforts and new parenting methods.

Kathy found her courage and stepped out of her comfort zone. As a shy and quiet Mom, she made a huge effort to socialize with other families with some encouragement of our Family Mentors, and made good friends at OneSky! Within two years, she witnessed the development of her children, and even herself as she formed a new social circle. “It wasn’t easy, yet I know how valuable it has been, especially seeing the transformation on all three of us,” says the happy Mom.

Healing a young Hong Kong mother’s pain

OneSky Family Mentors are Strengthening the Bonds Between Parents and Children.

When Jenny, a young mum of two, first met OneSky Family Mentor Yannis at the P. C. Lee OneSky Global Centre for Early Childhood Development (OSGC) in Hong Kong a year ago, she was frustrated and angry.

“I hate her,” Jenny said, speaking of her 5-year-old daughter, Yuet. Yannis could sense that behind Jenny’s harsh words there was a complicated story – one she was determined to get to the bottom of.

Jenny had visited the OSGC with Yuet and younger sibling Hei, aged 3. Jenny’s disheveled appearance and anxious expression caused Yannis to realize that this was a family hurting and in need of compassion and support.

“After several conversations, I understood that her issues stemmed from a troubled marriage and her daughters’ condition,” Yannis recalled, explaining that Hei suffered from autism.

Jenny had blamed herself when Hei was diagnosed and was determined to spend her life taking care of her daughter’s special needs. However, as time went by, Jenny became exhausted by the reality of parenting a child on the spectrum. Feeling lost and alone, she became depressed, neglected Yuet and was barely able to care for herself.

Both mother and daughter grew apart. Jenny became angry and the only time she spoke to Yuet was to bark orders about what needed to be done to help care for her younger sister. Even at her tender young age, Yuet came to realize that life was all about her little sister and that her mother could not give her the attention she so desperately craved. So, as children do, she began behaving badly, fighting with Hei and losing her temper.

The destructive pattern became a viscous cycle: the more Yuet rebelled, the more pressure her unstable mother felt. Jenny eventually reacted, screaming her feelings of hatred and guilt toward Yuet.

Fortunately, Jenny had come to the OSGC before things spiraled more out of control.

After listening to Jenny, Yannis focused on rebuilding the broken relationships between Jenny and herself, her daughters, and the community. Yannis became a bridge between the mother and both daughters, helping to ease their anxiety and emotions.

OneSky’s Family Mentors walked alongside the mother, while helping Yuet and Hei to build a healthier sibling relationship. Jenny was encouraged to appreciate and recognize Yuet’s effort by making her a handicraft. When she saw Yuet smiling from ear to ear, she suddenly saw her daughter as an individual with her own needs.

Family Mentor Yannis was so touched by Jenny’s progress that she decided to offer Jenny a personal gift – a pair of earrings with a hoop surrounded by tiny flowers, depicting the mother as the core of a family in her daughters’ mind.

“Please cherish yourself and recognize your efforts,’’ Yannis told Jenny. “Only by doing so, can you treat yourself and your daughters nicely.”

Jenny was overwhelmed. “This gift is too much for me. I am not brave enough to wear this and I don’t deserve it. But I am willing to learn to face myself and be kind to myself, so I shall try to put them on,” replied Jenny.

With OneSky’ support in understanding the role she plays as a caregiver to her young and vulnerable children; Jenny has come to better know herself and is on the road to rebuilding her relationship with her daughters. Meanwhile, Yuet has stopped picking fights with her little sister and the two have learned to play together.

Recently, Jenny visited the OneSky Global Centre in Sham Shui Po with the girls. She looked different this time. Tidy and wearing a beautiful outfit, a pair of earrings were dangling from her ears.

“Do you love them now?” asked Yannis warmly, noticing how happy the young girls and their mom appeared. Holding them tight, Jenny turned to look at her daughters and smiled genuinely without saying a word. The answer was clear.

In Hong Kong, OneSky supports children and families living on the margins by providing caregiver skills training and a safe, educational play space. Working with NGOs in the community, OneSky supports families with counseling and ancillary services.

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.

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.

Helping to raise confident kids in Sham Shui Po

By Crystal Cheng, Family Center Supervisor

I joined OneSky in June 2019 to empower and engage caregivers and to help children develop their full potential regardless of their ethnicity, ability or socio-economic status. This past year has only served to reinforce the importance of our work.

Recently, I interacted with a parent who joined our Family Centre when it opened a year ago. It has been a difficult year for her, as it has been for so many in the low-income community we serve. But, as a social worker, what has struck me is that she has been able to find positives in her difficult situation. In particular, she spoke of the encouraging change in her daughter’s behavior and how that has drawn them closer.

Her child has become braver, more confident, because of what she has learned from her OneSky family mentors. Within a supportive environment, this mum has been taught to observe her child, note her interests, and use them to enrich her play. This in turn has strengthened their bond, as well as the child’s sense of trust and self-confidence.

To learn new skills, put them into practice, and see a tangible response has left quite an impression on this mum, who said it felt like “a small personal miracle, played out against the backdrop of this awful pandemic.”

Here in Hong Kong, as we fought Covid-19, OneSky’s usual means of reaching out and changing lives were constantly impacted and we have had to adapt.

Primarily, the OneSky Centre is a place for the local community to gather, learn, and, of course, play. To date, we have registered 437 children and 495 caregivers as members of the Centre.

At times, the children have been able to enjoy socially distanced supervised play and parents enjoyed training workshops. At other times, however, with services suspended, continuing our work for the children and their caregivers has required creativity.

So, we started online storytelling sessions, parent-child activities and even a virtual Christmas party through the phone. Using WhatsApp, we have offered parenting tips, activity cards, and all manner of DIY fun for kids.

Despite all the constraints, we have never stopped reaching out and letting parents know they are not alone. Pandemic circumstances allowing, each family is able to access support and services in the Family Centre.

One of the lessons we have learned from the past year is not to second guess the future, and 2021 still remains somewhat unknown.

However, like that child with the proud mum, our confidence is growing. Despite tough circumstances, we learned that we, too, can rise to the occasion. I’m so proud of our staff and their bravery, innovation, and commitment to the community we serve.

Complementing the parenting skills training led by our Family Mentors, innovation will continue to characterize our approach to working with vulnerable communities as we build a supportive network for the families of Sham Shui Po.

It has already been quite a journey, thanks to the generous hearts of colleagues, donors, and local NGOs. Standing together, we are proud to be part of the solution to offer a better future for the vulnerable families of Hong Kong.

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.”