TREATS is a charity began in 1979, the International Year of the Child, in response to the arrival of thousands of Vietnamese refugees following the end of the Vietnam War. Known as ‘boat people’, they were given temporary refuge in hastily created, overcrowded closed camps. Concerned about the lack of recreational opportunities for these children, a group of private individuals arranged outings – or ‘treats’ – to beaches, recreation camps and Ocean Park. They then turned their attention to local children, providing the same opportunities for children living in crowded resettlement estates. The first logo of TREATS was a kite, symbolizing that all children enjoy having fun, making friends, and playing.
Throughout the 1980s we gave ‘treats’ to Vietnamese refugee children, as well as Hong Kong children living in crowded resettlement estates, promoting the value of recreation and play. The largest part of our budget was spent on sending children to overnight recreation camps in the New Territories, which were then still open countryside, or for a day at sea on the Adventure Ship. We also started outings for children from special needs schools, which included a visit to Walt Disney on Ice and a visiting circus.
As a charity, TREATS recognized that the right of those with physical, mental and behavioural challenges to take part in life and to be accepted members of the community was not being met. Accordingly, TREATS introduced a programme of youth development services with an emphasis on integrating children with different abilities through recreation and play. TREATS received its first sponsorship from the Hong Kong Jockey Club for this programme, which became our signature programme, paving the way for our inclusive programmes in later years.
In 1995, the Hong Kong Community Chest began funding our Youth Development Project. The project trained mainstream students and those with disabilities to work as a team, promoting community awareness about social inclusion and children’s rights.
TREATS introduced a collaborative community project to raise awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disabilities in the wider community.
With the gradual closure of the detention centres, TREATS ended 19 years of charity service to these children.
To further connect with their local communities, children and teenagers with various abilities were grouped as ‘buddies’ to participate in different community activities. The programme developed the participants’ awareness, confidence, social skills and life skills. It also reduced social isolation and changed attitudes towards people with disabilities.
TREATS began establishing partnerships with businesses to promote social inclusion and volunteering and build a more inclusive society and workplaces. Each year, TREATS worked with 30 business partners to create a better society for children in Hong Kong.
TREATS commissioned the Child Development Center of the Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) to conduct a local study on social integration – the first of its kind in Hong Kong. The “Integration in Hong Kong” research provided many valuable insights, allowing TREATS to adopt a more evidence-based approach.
TREATS set up the first circus team in Hong Kong made up of children with disabilities and corporate volunteers. The project aimed to enhance the self-image and confidence of these children by teaching them to juggle. The children performed at various community events, showing the people of Hong Kong that it is possible to juggle, whatever your ability.
In 2007 we redesigned our vision, mission and logo, with a new image symbolizing TREATS’ passion for embracing diversity and our commitment to building an inclusive Hong Kong for all children.
TREATS commissioned the Center for Child Development of HKBU to conduct another study on the “Impact and Effect of Integration Experiences on the Young Generation of Hong Kong”. The research findings and results proved that TREATS’ social inclusion programmes were effective in altering perspectives, building confidence in young participants and bridging social gaps for underprivileged groups in Hong Kong.
In 2011, TREATS published our first set of children’s books targeting kindergartens in Hong Kong. The Bringing Everyone Together series, coupled with our storytelling workshops, help create a caring future generation.
TREATS’ first Sailing for ALL teams were made up of teenagers with disabilities and volunteers. Team members learnt the skills of sailing together, before taking part in races at sea. The team came second in the Sailability Group in the 24HR Charity Dinghy Race in Hong Kong.
The Youth Mentoring and Work-based Learning Project for Underprivileged Youth enabled teenagers with different abilities or from ethnic minority groups to gain new skills. They learnt through actually working in different business enterprises. It also encouraged businesses in Hong Kong to embrace an inclusive and diverse workplace culture.
Sport is a universal language and a wonderful way to break social barriers, build confidence and learn about teamwork. TREATS’ Inclusive Dragon Boat Team, which consisted of students with intellectual disabilities and volunteers, received intensive training before racing in the Sai Kung Dragon Boat Festival 2019.
The year 2019 marked TREATS’ 40 years of service in Hong Kong. We celebrated this occasion with a new image, which also signifies the start of a new phase for TREATS.
In January 2020, TREATS organized the first Hong Kong Inclusive Kin-ball Cup. We believe that everyone, regardless of their ability or background, should be able to participate in sports. Each kin-ball team is made up of teenagers with disabilities and volunteers. Through kin-ball training and playing in matches, they break down social barriers and learn about teamwork and partnership. This emerging sport is played in more than 30 countries and is known as a way to enhance social inclusion for people with disabilities.