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      2. Over 80% of CityU participants enhance empathy through immersive visualisation youth project

        Eva Choy

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        (From left) Dr Lam Miu-ling, Professor Horace Ip Ho-shing, Professor Matthew Lee Kwok-on, and Professor Sophie St-Hilaire.
        (From left) Dr Lam Miu-ling, Professor Horace Ip Ho-shing, Professor Matthew Lee Kwok-on, and Professor Sophie St-Hilaire.

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        An online achievement exhibition launched in January displayed the works and accomplishment of the “Jockey Club Enhancing Youth Empathy Project through Immersive Visualisation” (the Project), organised by City University of Hong Kong (CityU) and funded by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust.

        The three-year Project, which comprises three programmes, namely COSI (Companions of Social Inclusion), TEDY (Technologies for the Elderly and Disabled people by Youths) and WOW (Walking with Omura’s Whale Programme), enables young people to develop compassion for ethnic minority groups, the elderly and disabled, and nature and the environment utilising CityU’s strengths in immersive visualisation technology.

        Over 600 CityU students have participated as Student Ambassadors and/or inventors of prototypes, with more than 80% showing improvement in empathy. The work created through the Project over the last three years has reached over 130,000 beneficiaries and the innovative tools developed were applied in over 60 non-governmental organisations. Participants have won 15 international and local awards and more than 200 workshops, seminars and exhibitions for the public have been organised.

        The interactive online exhibition, which can be viewed as a virtual guided tour, includes 18 projects that are the most representative among the works developed by students. Highlights include the “Sikh Temple 360 Virtual Tour”, which offers visitors a more thorough understanding of the Khalsa Diwan Sikh Temple in Wan Chai; “Prosroid”, the wheelchair training simulator for practicing in; and “The Lost Omura's Whale” virtual reality project, which offers players an immersive learning experience about ocean conservation.

        (from left) the Sikh Temple 360 Virtual Tour; Prosroid – The Wheelchair Training Simulator; and “The Lost Omura's Whale” virtual reality project.
        (From left) the Sikh Temple 360 Virtual Tour; Prosroid – The Wheelchair Training Simulator; and “The Lost Omura's Whale” virtual reality project.

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        Professor Matthew Lee Kwok-on, Project Leader and Vice-President (Development and External Relations) at CityU, said he was proud to see the Project make an impact. “Building empathy and enhancing social inclusion are long-term challenges. With the full support of The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, we are happy that the Project has made a good start,” he said.

        Dr David Chung Wai-keung, Under Secretary for Innovation and Technology of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, said he was inspired by the efforts of the participating students. “I have been very impressed by their innovative deployment of immersive visualisation technology. It encourages young people to adopt a first-person perspective of the hardships experienced by the elderly and people with disabilities today. Their impressive creations using cutting-edge technologies promote greater empathy in our city,” he said.

        Mr Leong Cheung, Executive Director of Charities and Community of The Hong Kong Jockey Club, said the Club’s Charities Trust was delighted to support the Project. “Most encouragingly, the Project has resulted in the creation of award-winning rehabilitative and assistive devices, empowered ethnic minority students with strengthened coping skills, and promoted environmental sustainability,” he said.

        The project received positive feedback from students who took part. Mr Parco Yeung Pak-to, graduate of the Department of Electrical Engineering, was a participant of TEDY. “The programme gave us many opportunities to meet the elderly and learn about their problems first-hand, which inspired us to make the prototype of the Utility Shopping Clutch. This was a satisfying experience because we could see we were really helping others,” he said.

        Ms Katie Cheng Kee-yee, a graduate of the School of Creative Media, said the project gave her a better understanding of the Omura's whale and the other cetacean species, as well as the profound impact of pollution on marine lives.

        Professor Horace Ip Ho-shing, CityU Vice-President (Student Affairs), Dr Lam Miu-ling, Associate Professor of the School of Creative Media, and Professor Sophie St-Hilaire, Acting Head and Professor of the Department of Infectious Diseases and Public Health, were Programme Coordinators of COSI, TEDY and WOW respectively. The project encourages young people to develop their skills through “perspective-taking” and “role-taking”, and to create innovative solutions that meet the challenges and problems that different groups face.

        The Online Achievement Exhibition of the Jockey Club Enhancing Youth Empathy Project through Immersive Visualisation can be viewed at http://www.i-cha.cn/youthempathy/achievement/en/ .

        The student works showcased at the Project’s online achievement exhibition help to build empathy and enhance social inclusion.
        The student works showcased at the Project’s online achievement exhibition help to build empathy and enhance social inclusion.

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