On Friday, we held our last T.E.E.N. Programme Closing Ceremony after running this programme for nine years. Around 140 Programme participants, Alumni, Big Brothers & Sisters, Board Members, teachers, sponsors, partners and volunteers came together to bid an emotional farewell to our signature youth empowerment initiative.
Since 2010, T.E.E.N. (Talent, Empowerment, Equality and Networking) has been a keystone programme of The Women’s Foundation, enriching the lives of over 350 teenagers from underprivileged backgrounds, as well as 170 undergraduate Big Brothers and Sisters who served as the TEENs’ mentors, through leadership training, gender and diversity awareness, teamwork skills, project management experience and confidence building activities.
Participants spoke movingly about their increased ability to voice their opinions, achieve their goals, step out of their comfort zones, and call out behaviour that isn’t inclusive. All skills that the world needs more of to progress gender equality.
As one TEEN alumnus noted: “It’s been an honour to join this Programme…I have noticed a lot of changes in myself. I used to stand to the side quietly, listening to what the others were saying, but now I’ve started to open up about my own opinions and look at the same issues from different perspectives.”
Another commented: “I know that we will all take what we’ve learned from this programme into our own lives to help society and ourselves.”
The Programme’s success was attributable in large part to the supportive family-like bond engendered between the TEEN participants, TWF staff and Big Brothers and Sisters. The connections that were forged will continue long after the Programme’s conclusion. We are also extremely grateful for the crucial support, advice and resources we have received over the past nine years. A special thank you to CLSA, Social Welfare Department’s Partnership Fund for the Disadvantaged, and 100 Women in Finance for sponsoring the Programme.
Given the rapidly changing nature of today’s society, Hong Kong’s young people will face a series of as-yet undefined challenges as they mature to adulthood. When TWF launched T.E.E.N. nine years ago it was one of the first of its kind and we believe it has provided our TEENs with the experiences and skills to help them make critical life choices, and we are confident they will positively contribute to Hong Kong’s future and work to make gender equality a reality for future generations.
As always, TWF is dedicated to developing ground-breaking and impactful community programmes that are grounded in research. Over the last few years, TWF has identified new challenges and needs that should be addressed in society; so although we are sad to say goodbye to our T.E.E.N. Programme, we will carry its key learnings and success factors into our new and equally groundbreaking Gender Education Programme for Boys. Stay tuned for more updates!