【南華早報專訪】More than words: charity supported by Operation Santa Claus helps Hong Kong children with dyslexia build confidence and learn
More than words: charity supported by Operation Santa Claus helps Hong Kong children with dyslexia build confidence and learn
• Pathways Foundation focuses on promoting literacy development for children who suffer from dyslexia and delivering interventions for those with learning woes
• NGO is one of 15 charities to benefit from fundraising drive by the South China Morning Post and public broadcaster RTHK
Reporter: Carrie Lee
Photo: Xiaomei Chen
Published: 10:00am, 21 Nov, 2022
Original article: https://sc.mp/nigo?utm_source=copy_link&utm_medium=share_widget&utm_campaign=3199779
Seven months ago, 10-year-old Yoyo Yiu Ching, who is dyslexic, was struggling with her studies despite trying her best. Worse still, she was often misunderstood and thought to be careless and inattentive.
“Now I find studying easier, and I am happier,” the Primary Five pupil said.
The tide turned for Yiu in April when she started attending classes for dyslexic children at Pathways Foundation to supplement mainstream schooling.
“The courses use methods that enable dyslexic children to learn more easily,” Yiu’s mother Ada Hung Suk-wai said. “For example, to help her memorise Chinese words, the tutor showed her how to break up a word into parts linked by a story.”
Yiu said: “There many dyslexic children and we need help. Other people are not aware of our problems. They just criticise us wrongly, saying we are not paying attention or working hard. So Pathways’ services are important.”
Founded in 2001 by a group of professionals including educators, psychologists, doctors, lawyers and businessmen, the foundation serves children with dyslexia.
“It’s the first and only NGO in Hong Kong focusing on promoting literacy development for children who suffer from dyslexia and delivering interventions for those with reading and writing difficulties,” executive director Lucille Wong Siu-ha said.
“The foundation is one of the global partners of the International Dyslexia Association and the only one in Hong Kong,” she added.
People with dyslexia, which is not a problem of intelligence, encounter difficulty in word recognition, leading to issues with reading comprehension and writing.
Wong said the condition affected about 1 in 10 individuals in Hong Kong.
“Many students with dyslexia suffer in silence and have very low self-esteem because they often fall behind in their education and lose faith in their learning abilities. Children with dyslexia are often stigmatised and misunderstood,” Wong said.
“We aim to create an effective and individualised learning environment for these students, providing them with dyslexia-specific and evidence-based interventions to help them bridge their learning gap, rekindle their interest in learning, and assist them to discover their strengths and foster self-esteem.
“It is also our mission to raise public awareness on the challenges faced by these children and the importance of early identification and intervention,” she added.
Wong said the learning difficulties faced by such students often could not be adequately addressed in mainstream schools with their large class sizes, while subsidised lessons such as Pathways’ are limited in number due to insufficient funding.
“There is a long wait for assessments and referrals. The students, especially those from low-come families, can do nothing but wait,” Wong said. “In a nutshell, there are many children who need help but there are not enough resources to serve them all.”
Fortunately, she noted, support was on the way.
The organisation is one of 15 charities benefiting this year from Operation Santa Claus (OSC), an annual fundraising drive by the South China Morning Post and public broadcaster RTHK. Marking its 35th anniversary this year, OSC has raised HK$353 million (US$45 million) since its launch in 1988 to support the Hong Kong community through 323 projects.
“With the funding, we aim to help young students with reading and writing difficulties from low-income families,” Wong said.
“Starting next year, we will provide them with timely and appropriate intervention through fully subsidised short courses in Chinese, English and mathematics during the Easter and summer holidays. Our target is to help 240 students in the three-year project.”
The professional and evidence-based short courses will be conducted in groups of three to four. The classes will be individualised according to students’ needs, allowing them to focus on their respective strengths, explore their own potential and rebuild self-confidence.