MeManagement joined hands with Service Civil International (SCI) Volunteers for Peace in the development and delivery of Emotional Literacy weekend work camps for local HK school students at Mt Davis Youth Hostel during April. The programme was part of the yearly SCI Capacity Building training facilitated among 40 Chinese school students from four local schools.
Emotional Literacy became the theme of the camp due to the increase of the number of suicides among local students since the start of the school year. The intention was to help the students better understand the nature of emotions, where they come from, and how to self manage their state appropriately so they don’t feel overwhelmed. Experiential games and interactive activities provided creative contexts and outlets for the students to express and process their emotions.
Emotional overload has been hitting the media headlines as Hong Kong has been facing the harsh reality of how academic pressure impacts young minds and their inability to cope. “We live in such a fast paced society with both parents working full time in most cases, and leaving their children to be cared for by a domestic helper,” reported a local mother, Mrs. Lam. “As parents we feel that children should be given every opportunity to learn and experience all they can at a young age to increase their chances as adults. We fill their every waking moment with extra lessons, like in language, sports and music classes. Then there are the extra curricular studies for enhancing the child’s understanding of a particular subject they may not be doing well in. Not to mention the standard daily homework load given by the teachers. All this is becoming too much as children just don’t have time to be children anymore.”
Feedback from the students at the end of the camp included how it has deepened their understanding of different emotions, and the importance of releasing feelings in a suitable way rather than keeping them bottled up inside. The morning meditation was acknowledged to be useful to release stress, help them to feel more calm and relaxed, and for problem solving. Other creative activities like writing, drawing, music, dance and drama were seen as good ways for them to express their feelings and have fun. One consistent message from the students at the work camp was the sheer joy of being able to engage in the activities in a relaxed way without the everyday pressure to perform, and the free time permitted for them to just be their young selves.