Yeung Tsz-man studied Social Work for her Bachelor Degree at HKU from 2002 to 2005. Being a focused and goal-driven person, she pursued a clear and definite direction for her future career, and that is why she says she began participating in various volunteer services with different agencies, including being a mentor in youth activities, participating in community-based programmes and so on. Her most touching memory during this time occurred when she was working for the Hong Kong Down Syndrome Association (DSA), which aims to improve the lives of those people with Down Syndrome and also improve the public perception of this condition. She remains a member of the organisation to this day, and her career is a showcase of the rewards that kindness for others can bring.
In 2003, I became a volunteer of DSA; they serve people with different types of disabilities, such as a mild or moderate mental handicap, autism or Down Syndrome. At the very beginning, I only worked as an assistant for the activities, but later on I was invited to become one of the scout leaders with the Extension Scouts, which is mainly for children with disabilities. Since being a Scout Team Leader, I knew that I was in it for the long term, and that's why I attended different training courses for scout leaders on my own. Sometimes we need to plan and lead the assembly, and we also take the scouts for camping and outdoor activities. Through those different life experiences, the scout members' independent living skills have been enhanced.
The most impressive memory for me was on a camping activity with members of the scouts. We had arranged a "night walk" activity for them, which was a good opportunity to give them some challenges. During the process, they resolved the difficulties encountered gradually, each by showing their individual autonomy. I could empathise with their excitement, as well as their satisfaction and sense of achievement. I was touched to see their growth, and even their parents were surprised at what they achieved. As long as they are given a chance, they can overcome life's obstacles. That's certainly the realisation of the process of "people-oriented service", which focuses on an individual's potential and strength, and underscores that every person is unique.
So, when I had the opportunity to work in special schools after graduation, I still adhered to the belief that the concept of "self-determination" is important to bring to students with mental handicaps, so that they can have the opportunity to set their personal goals and realise their own dreams, as well as exercising the decision-making process. The special school is a secondary work setting for a social worker, and I am grateful that my experiences in volunteer services in past years for mentally handicapped students provided a good chance for me to learn how to communicate and build a good rapport with them. I found that attentive observation and empathy is very important in our work setting. Those experiences in volunteer services made me more sensitive to the needs of my students, and also more understanding to their interests and abilities, so that I can carry out a series of new jobs and services in school.
Through my involvement in volunteer services, I also understand more about the direction of my own future career. Besides, the response of the service users also motivates my work and teaches me to cherish every opportunity to work with my students, and I regard their welfare as my primary obligation. I also value the participation and involvement in society, which complements the narrower contact level of my work, and helps me to keep the pace with the development of social services.
"At this moment, my heartfelt wish is to set up the first Rover Scout Team for mentally handicapped people in Hong Kong, so that they can have a continuing opportunity to experience and realise self-determination through a variety of activities."