The cruelest irony of 2020 was that more families needed help than ever before and yet social distancing kept people apart. But in May, against all odds, OneSky opened a special place in one of Hong Kong’s poorest neighborhoods. It looks set to thrive in 2021.
Despite the stop and start nature of 2020, the P. C. Lee OneSky Global Centre for Early Childhood Development is a testimony to those working hard to serve the vulnerable young children of the surrounding Sham Shui Po area.
It includes a family centre with an educational, indoor playground, a wetroom, a family resource center and a training hub for OneSky’s parental and professional caregiver training. At the turn of the Lunar New Year, despite the pandemic, we have graduated our first parent training cohort with two more to follow soon.
In the 22 weeks the center was open in 2020, OneSky has worked with local NGOs and the community to register 356 children and 401 caregivers who can access center support and services.
Meanwhile, online activities continue to flourish. Our training and caregiving has had to adapt from face-to-face in the center when Covid-19 conditions allowed, to online meetings during times of social distancing. Storytelling, DIY toys, and parenting tips were all shared virtually and the year even culminated with an online Christmas party.
A centre for children, their families and the community
Space has always been a consideration in Hong Kong. Those families living in cramped subdivided apartments in Sham Shui Po have suffered more than most in the lockdown. The comparative size of the family centre offered the chance for families to enjoy wider spaces while maintaining social distancing.
The Centre’s architect, Vicky Chan (pictured below), wrote earlier this summer:
“Pandemic preparation is not something we had planned in 2018 when we started, 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.”
Today, Centre staff are thrilled that the building was built with good health in mind. Adapting further in 2020, the playroom on the first floor was equipped with toys and opened to families so they could enjoy a safe but fun play space.
The Year of the Ox will bring its own challenges. However, 2020 has shown that OneSky’s dedicated frontline workers will be ready to face them – more resilient and knowledgeable than ever.