AIA spurs young leaders to serve the community
After years of hard work climbing the corporate ladder, it is easy for company leaders to lose contact with those in society who really need help along the way.
That is why AIA’s Young Leaders Development Programme (YLDP) places special emphasis on developing a sense of responsibility towards serving the community.
The programme, which runs annually and has just celebrated its 15th anniversary, has provided training to more than 400 university students. It has helped produce successful and socially conscious alumni who regularly gather to participate in different community services and charitable activities.
“The aim of the YLDP is to groom and develop the next generation of leaders for Hong Kong by training students in strategic thinking, team building and problem solving, and encouraging them to serve the community,” says Jacky Chan, chief executive of AIA Hong Kong and Macau.
This year’s theme, “Leaders with excellence”, emphasises academic achievements, community service and courageous integrity.
“This year we included a community-project challenge for our young leaders to get involved with in order to broaden their understanding and give back to the community,” Chan says.
For the challenge, students were split into five groups, with each group assigned a charitable organisation for which they had to design a useful project and devise a plan for how they would raise the necessary funds.
The Hong Kong Council of Social Services (HKCSS) helped AIA choose five charitable organisations of various sizes to benefit from the challenge. It also briefed students on the needs of each organisation, after which each group of students then spent a day with their respective organisations to learn about its activities.
The winning team’s project benefited the Evangelical Lutheran Church Social Service’s (ELCSS) Kwai Shing branch, a small organisation that provides a hostel for moderate-grade mentally handicapped people.
“We have never had a fundraising programme before,” says Cara Chan Pui-shan, superintendent of ELCSS Kwai Shing Hostel. “Properly planned and designed, the programme will provide others with a better understanding of the hostel’s users.”
When preparing the project, students asked in-depth questions about the needs of hostel users to form a good understanding of their situation.
“We had a discussion [with the students] on the needs of various users, taking into account their health status, ageing condition, the degree to which they can engage in activities, and how these factors combine to determine their quality of life,” Cara Chan says.
Students also paid attention to the hostel’s limited resources and the fact that it is not a well-known organisation.
The students identified that one of the main problems for mentally handicapped people is that they lose their sense of balance as they age. They then worked on some inexpensive fall-prevention measures and devised a fundraising programme to make the plan possible. They suggested performances by the hostel’s residents, live video, making and selling handicraft, and discussing life in the hostel with visitors.
The hostel will need up to a year to prepare everything and it intends to put the plan into practice in 2014, starting on an open day that will celebrate its 10th anniversary.
“The plan will have a positive impact on all participants. It will increase the positive image of the mentally handicapped and reduce public misunderstandings. In the long run, it will also promote social inclusion,” Cara Chan says. “The students have done an admirable job and a definite step towards creating a caring and inclusive community.”
HOISTING A HOSTEL
The AIA student project will help the Kwai Shing Hostel by:
- Drawing public attention to the life of the mentally handicapped
- Promoting public understanding of people with mental problems
- Raising funds to help improve the quality of life of hostel users
- Encouraging social inclusion and a more caring community