MU Connect issue 5 (page 08)

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HKMU students become Best Buddies with people with intellectual disabilities

I used to have the impression that most people with mental disabilities are introverted, but after joining this programme, I found that they could be just as optimistic and outgoing,' says Lee Ka-wai, a student in Applied Social Studies participating in the HKMU Best Buddies Pro-gramme — Arts with Intellectual Disability Scheme.

The programme is a collaboration between the University's Student Affairs Office and Fu Hong Society as part of a global movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships between people with and without intellectual disabilities. Since February, the 'Best Buddies' have together created a giant handprint painting, drawn portraits of each other and visited Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden.

'My buddy was really energetic when we visited Kadoorie Farm. She kept asking me to take photos with her, even just in front of some ordinary-looking trees. Happiness is really so simple,' reflects Ka-wai.

Kainat Farooq, studying Global Business and Marketing, was impressed by her buddies' enthusiasm for the arts. 'It was amazing to see how much joy and happiness our interactions brought the participants, and how much they appreciated our support and encouragement. Everyone deserves the opportunity to express themselves and be creative, regardless of their abilities or disabilities,' she says.

The programme's finale was the HKMU Best Buddies Ceremony and Carnival in May, at which HKMU student volunteers set up game booths for people with intellectual disabilities from residential care homes of Fu Hong Society. But it was not so much an end as a beginning — the ceremony marked the establishment of the HKMU Best Buddies Chapter. The friendships will go on.