Thanks to my frustration with the Hong Kong educational system, I first learned about Hong Kong Forest Adventures. I was surrounded by learning centers, where children spend their afternoons, followed by pro-skills-oriented courses. Since early childhood, kids in Hong Kong need to pass interviews and benchmarks, authorities are constantly measuring them and testing. That would be a lot of stress even for an adult!
So I sat down to my computer and started to feed Google phrases like “alternative education”, “outdoor”, “forest learning”, “playing”, “development”...
Soon I scheduled a meeting with Uncle Danie, the founder of the HKFA, and was ready to visit the campus for the first time. Danie greeted me with a big smile. If you ever met Danie, you know he has a contagious passion for what he does. He believes truly in the values of his mission.
“Simply, we bring play back to the children.” Soon there were two of us smiling.
“We trust the children. We step back and let them play and create. We are ready to help or protect them, but the activities are children-led.” Danie found his calling here. Being a carpenter by trade, Danie brings the same values in building playgrounds, too.
“Children can rebuild the playgrounds! Change anything!” Kids playing with mud, in nature, with hand-crafted natural materials, that is a magical world to him.
Among all, I can see the love for the little ones, and the willingness to help them to develop in happy and skilled young humans. I have met many education leaders in Hong Kong, but meeting with Danie left me with a feeling of warmth and hope and a taste of childhood adventures. It was like being a kid again.
In fact, it seems Uncle Danie somehow managed not to grow up.