Avinash Bharwaney, Kids4Kids Alumni
I joined Kids4Kids in 2010 and was an active participant at the 2010 and 2011 Powered by Youth Forums. Both the forums were life-changing experiences in their own right. I got to meet and connect with incredible people who dedicate their life to the community, and from this I was inspired to follow similar action. Soon after, I encouraged some of my peers to join me in participating in other programs such as the Kids4Kids Market Day in 2012.
Subsequent to merely being a "participant" at the Powered by Youth Forums, I began to involve myself more by undertaking roles such as planning, marketing and executing the 2012 and 2013 Powered by Youth Forums. I also coordinated on-the-day logistics and acted as one of the facilitators for the workshops. It was a wonderful and challenging experience where I realized that sometimes things just don't exactly go according to plan - speakers do arrive late and there can be technical difficulties, etc. I quickly learnt that we should always be mentally prepared to adapt to unforeseen situations and have a contingency plan. These experiences that I had early on through Kids4Kids programs were key lessons in honing management and people skills. inevitably benefiting my transition from high school into university and work life.
In addition to the Powered by Youth Forum, I was involved across a host of other activities at Kids4Kids that required me to step out of my comfort zone and take on roles that I would never have had the chance to do in a regular school environment. I was selected to be one of the student leaders for the Kids4Kids Advocates Leadership Team in 2012 where I helped to coordinate the planning and execution of Kids4Kids Gala dinner, as well as the Lane Crawford x Kids4Kids fundraising event. I even became one of the emcees for the event! It was very daunting at first, but I quickly found out that I enjoy public speaking which led to a series of relevant opportunities such as being an emcee for the Jax Coco Marathon in 2014 as well.
Having these responsibilities at a young age enabled me to get to know my strengths and weaknesses well. I learnt a lot about myself throughout the journey and the experiences were instrumental in scoping out what i wanted to do for a living.
Having these responsibilities at a young age enabled me to get to know my strengths and weaknesses well. I learnt a lot about myself throughout the journey and the experiences were instrumental in scoping out what I wanted to do for a living. I soon learned that I preferred a lot more social interaction, am able to connect directly with people and empathize with them. Instead of pursuing a science route which was my initial direction, I opted for business and finance at college, a decision I'm thankful to have made no less thanks to Kids4Kids.
Aside from shaping my skill development and career path, Kids4kids taught me a set of life-long values and mindsets in understanding issues and how to approach them, through the particular lens of solving social issues. A lot of the time we hear social change as something only needed abroad, somewhere foreign. But many times, change is needed locally, in our own ‘backyard’. This was one of the many major mindset shifts when identifying social issues, their causes and pain points. This can easily be extended to our everyday lives in terms of how we identify opportunities or levers of change.
Another key learning was that everything we did was for other people. That’s all that mattered in the end. All the planning for a project was to eventually impact somebody’s life, and if it could not achieve that, it significantly lessened the point in doing anything at all. Due to this, a lot of the learning that we did was not necessarily technical, but rather experiential. We focused on building soft skills such as connecting with people, empathizing with them and developing audience-first approaches in designing our programs (similar to what is done in design thinking!). Connecting directly with the people we were helping through outreach allowed me to better understand people of different backgrounds, their needs and how issues could potentially be resolved by better tailoring our programs to them.
Kids4Kids has transformed my life. It has helped me develop awareness for not only global issues, but ones that occur in our 'backyard' as well. More importantly, it has given me the platform to gain exposure connecting with people, honing my listening and empathizing skills. These are highly treasured mental takeaways from my time with Kids4Kids that continue to help me even at the workplace today.
This year, I reunited with Kids4Kids on its 10th anniversary and was invited by the team to help coordinate the Kids4Kids alumni network. I am thrilled to take on this role as I feel my years at Kids4Kids when I was younger has given me a lot. Now that I am graduated and in my early twenties, I want to give back to Kids4Kids and contribute to its vision to empower kids and youth in Hong Kong to be changemakers.
Remember this always: "You are never too young to change the world!"