Children with special needs experience limitations in various areas, including restricted bodily movement, visual, hearing, and speech difficulties, mental illness/mood disorder, autistic spectrum disorder; special learning difficulties, attention-deficient/hyperactivity disorder, and intellectual disability. According to a government survey, there are at least 20,600 (3.6%) children under 15 with special needs (excluding those with intellectual disabilities due to data limitation) in Hong Kong. Research shows that these children often have more healthcare needs, longer period of hospitalization, more frequent use of emergency room services, surgical or medical procedures than other children. In addition, these children may have behaviour or learning issues that can increase the risk of problems at school such as peer rejection. Looking after children with special needs is challenging and can be very stressful. Carers of children with special needs often experience poorer psychological health than other carers. Hence, stress relief activities are also important for these carers.
In late 2012, the Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine (the Department) of The University of Hong Kong (HKU) developed a one-stop web-based information platform called OneClick to enable parents and carers to retrieve free and easily accessible information regarding professional services provided by the government, institutions, non-governmental organisations and private sectors to improve the health, education and social outcomes of children with special needs. All information provided in the OneClick portal are screened and confirmed by experts to ensure they are from credible sources. The one-stop portal also enables users to quickly locate information and obtain the best support services. The OneClick portal currently covers over 400 links to different support service organisations in Hong Kong and has answered over 130 questions regarding children with special needs.
In the past years, the OneClick team has organised focus groups, carer experience sharing and lectures to enhance public awareness on the needs of children with special needs. In doing so, the Department hopes to stimulate the public to provide more support to these children. This year the Department further organised the “One+OneClick Run” charity walkathon – aside from strengthening public knowledge on children with special needs, this also presented an opportunity for stakeholders from different fields, service providers, participants and children with special needs to congregate together so that they could get to know and learn more from each other to build a harmonious community.
In addition to the above objectives, the Department hopes to deliver two important messages through this event:
1) Scientific studies showed that physical activity can foster healthy emotion regulation in children with special needs leading to better social functions and psychological health. A 7-year cohort study of over 700 children from the Department also revealed that sufficient physical activity and sleep during early childhood is associated with fewer attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms.
2) New treatment methods such as fun games, animal-assisted therapy and social robot have been found useful for children with special needs in the West. Hence, we also hope to take this opportunity to let the public and children learn more about these treatment methods.
The event was officiated by Professor Sophia Chan, Secretary for Food and Health of the Hong Kong SAR Government. Other important guests included: Mr Godwin Lai, Principal Assistant Secretary of Education Bureau; Professor Godfrey Chan, Professor Yu-Lung Lau, Dr Chun-Bong Chow, and Dr Patrick Ip of the Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, HKU; Dr So-Lun Lee of the Department Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Queen Mary Hospital; Professor Ian Wong of the Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacy, HKU; Dr Jason Yam of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, The Chinese University of Hong Kong; and Mr Dennis Leung of Kwai Tsing District Council. The booth activities were supported by: Buddhist Wong Wan Tin College, Jockey Club College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences, City University of Hong Kong, Heep Hong Society, The Hong Kong Allergy Association, Hong Kong Alliance for Rare Diseases, Hong Kong Guide Dogs Association, The Hong Kong Society for the Blind, The Hong Kong Society for the Deaf, Little People of Hong Kong, SAHK, The Society for the Relief of Disabled Children, InspiringHK Sports Foundation, and TREATS.
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