(11 November, 2022 – Hong Kong) Children are the key to the future of society. Creating a healthy and positive environment in which they grow and reach their full potential is therefore imperative. Yet, during nearly three years of the pandemic, many children from underprivileged families are faced with mental problems of varying degrees. To meet this mental health challenge and to provide professional one-stop services on children’s mental health support, Adrian Cheng, Chief Executive Officer of New World Development, has personally founded the non-profit organization The WEMP Foundation and invited a star-studded advisory committee from across professionals to share innovative, positive parenting skills with parents and teachers. The move is also in response to the ongoing need to enhance social and mental health services and support for children and families in Hong Kong. Since its launch, The WEMP Foundation has benefited over 20,000 students and parents.
The WEMP Foundation aims to nurture and improve four key attributes
Wellbeing, EQ, Mental Health and Parenting.
According to recent research on the mental health of children and teens, nearly 40% of primary and secondary school students in Hong Kong are showing signs of mental illness. Symptoms include a loss of focus, anxiety and insomnia; suicide rate among teenagers is also climbing, with few seeking psychological support. The problem is strikingly worse among students and parents from underprivileged families.
Adrian Cheng: Nurturing Wellness and Mental Health of the Next Generation
Adrian Cheng, founder of The WEMP Foundation, said, “Children are tomorrow’s leaders, and it is only by creating a healthy environment, with a great mental health and wellness support system, can children grow to reach their full potential, and positively lead our future community. I am excited to announce the official launch of The WEMP Foundation, which will help Hong Kong parents and teachers in their responsibilities of educating and nurturing children. I would also like to thank all our advisors for their continuous guidance, and for joining us on this meaningful journey of nurturing wellness and mental health of the next generation.”
John Lee, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong SAR, said, “Family care and school education are the two factors that influence our children’s growth the most. I thank the WEMP Foundation for your visionary approach and the achievements in supporting Hong Kong’s children.”
Integrated Power House to Empower Children, Parents and Schools
The WEMP Foundation is an all-round collaboration platform that brings together children, parents, schools and community. It actively offers one-stop, innovative parenting education and children’s mental health support, and through the collective knowledge and resources of experts from various industries, it aims to protect and safeguard the mental health of underserved children, in order to create a positive and loving environment in which they grow.
Chief Executive John Lee and members of its star-studded advisory committee members attended the inauguration ceremony of The WEMP Foundation. The advisory committee is composed of nearly 20 experts and leaders from the education, medical, academic, political and business sectors, including the Convener of the Executive Council Regina Ip; former Secretary for Food and Health Dr. Ko Wing-man; Chairman of the Council of the Hang Seng University of Hong Kong Dr. Moses Cheng; Archbishop and Primate of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui the Most Revd Andrew Chan; former Chairman of the Hospital Authority Prof. Anthony Wu; Senior Advisor to the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups Dr. Rosanna Wong; former Chairman of the MTR Corporation Dr. Frederick Ma; Chairman of Chinese Estates Holdings Limited Lau Ming-wai; former Headmistress of St. Paul Co-educational College Primary School Lucilla Leung; President of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Prof. Nancy Ip and more (for the full advisory committee members list, please refer to the appendix).
Introducing Innovative, Positive Parenting Skills and Mental Health Knowledge
Many parents in Hong Kong are faced with different degrees of parenting challenges, in particular on how to deal with their children’s emotions. These include the pressure felt by primary school students during their studies, as well as primary and secondary school students’ addiction to computer games and other rebellious behaviours. If ignored by parents, these problems will often create insecurity among children; while if parents choose to deal with these issues by beating, scolding or forcing them to obey, children will feel anxious and uneasy, often bottling up their negative emotions. When faced with even bigger setbacks, these frustrations can easily snowball into mental health problems.
Founded in February 2021, The WEMP Foundation has since launched a number of pilot projects on mental health education. Through innovative methods such as film appreciation, discussions, family-bonding workshops and its original interactive games on emotions, The WEMP Foundation brings to parents from underprivileged families positive parenting skills and mental health knowledge, while guiding children to learn and embrace their own emotions. Its projects have reached more than 7,000 students and 14,000 parents since.
The WEMP Foundation plans to introduce positive parenting skills training to 10 kindergartens, with the goal of sharing positive parenting skills and mental health knowledge to over 10,000 kindergarten parents and children. It is set to be Hong Kong’s first education programme that targets early childhood mental health. In addition, the WEMP Foundation is also collaborating with various partners to introduce positive parenting skills and educational activities on emotions to schools across 18 districts, with an aim to benefit 20,000 students and parents.
3 Parenting Tips for Building a “Happy Home” Through Film Appreciation
As a means for parents to learn about positive parenting skills, the WEMP Foundation has collaborated with a number of non-profit organisations to screen the award-winning micro-film “Sounds of Silence” across 18 districts. The micro-film tells the story of a 10-year-old boy who is emotionally devastated following the loss of his grandmother. Through a touching story, it brings out the common psychological distress and needs of children, including the need for mothers to listen to their troubles when they feel anxious, when their video game addiction is mistaken for rebellion, or when they blame themselves for their own shortcomings etc.
Through the film appreciation and Q&A sessions, parents are able to better understand their children and the psychological damage they may feel, which in turn help them adjust their parenting methods, and develop a positive parent-child relationship. The WEMP Foundation has also invited renowned educator Charles Yu to share three tips for building a “Happy Home”, namely be rational, be optimistic and be far-sighted. According to Yu, rational communication can avoid arguments, while parents should stay optimistic and believe in their children’s ability to self-correct and grow through their own mistakes. At the same time, Yu states that parents should be far-sighted, and begin developing their children’s merits at an early age, as children’s personality and inter-personal skills are often developed early on.
In order to enhance family bonding, the WEMP Foundation has also invited Chief of Service in the Department of Psychiatry at Queen Mary Hospital Dr. Phyllis Chan, in collaboration with the Hong Kong College of Psychiatrists and other partners, to host workshops for parents from underprivileged families. These workshops offer invaluable support on family education that will help parents create happiness, and a sense of success, for their children.
Original Interactive Games on Emotions to Help Students Embrace their Emotions
Happiness when shared is doubled and, on the other hand, sadness when shared is halved. In order to encourage children to express their feelings and needs, and to understand and embrace their emotions, The WEMP Foundation is partnering with the not-for-profit JUST FEEL, which has developed a set of original emotion cards and games to help educate children on different emotions, and the importance of having the courage to express their own feelings, in turn creating a culture of empathy at school and at home.
The WEMP Foundation encourages parents to adopt the attitude of “no scolding, no neglecting”, and use the four positive parenting skills, including rational thinking, love and tolerance, facing difficulties together with children, and encouraging and accompanying children to find the right emotional outlets, in order to face the emotional problems faced by children.
For those children who may not be able to express and handle their negative emotions, The WEMP Foundation is partnering with Prince of Wales Hospital and the specialist in developmental-behavioral paediatrics Dr. Dorothy Chan to refer them to psychiatrists, speech therapists and psychologists for specialised support; residential care services with the necessary financial assistance will also be arranged for severe and urgent cases.