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The next generation’s concerns: Young Writer’s Competition 2016 (Part 1 of 3)

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The annual Around DB and Life on Lantau Young Writer’s Competition once again drew numerous submissions from secondary students living and/or attending class all across the island.

This year, students were asked to write about a particular issue in their respective communities, a theme that evoked some insightful and emotional commentaries, as seen through the eyes of its youngest members.

Before the finalists’ works are released for voting on Saturday, we’ll be sharing a selection of entries online, including those of the three runners-up. Their stories provide a glimpse into the lives of the next generation who will, in just a short amount of time, take the reins and determine our future.

Congratulations to all the participants!

by Emilie Skovfoged, Year 8, DBIS

A couple of weeks ago I was walking home from school, only to notice that I could barely see a spot of sea that wasn’t polluted with shrimp chip packets, lost flip flops or Bonaqua bottles. All my life I’ve always dismissed it and thought that it wasn’t a big deal — but now I wonder how true that statement really is.

First off, we need to know what all that pollution really is, and how much there even is. When you look at all of the trash there is in the sea whilst on the ferry, are you seeing all there is to it? The whole picture only comes into play when you mention pollution, not just ‘garbage in the sea’. Pollution covers a larger portion of the problem. The main parts to pollution are sea pollution, land pollution and air pollution.

Sea pollution is a huge problem not just for Lantau, but even the whole world. Animals are dying from plastic bags thrown into the sea mistaking them for jellyfish and suffocating to death, dolphins and whales in particular are known for getting trapped in sea pollution, mainly around their nozzles or tails. It’s a tragic topic that can be prevented, and plenty of organisations and charities are trying to fix it for the better. But it’s not only plastic and glow sticks that pollute the ocean, but also from sewage and from fuels such as oil or petrol used to get on ferries to see the fireworks on Chinese New Year, or to get to Zara to buy that new dress you’ve been looking at for a while. Is it really worth the contamination of the ocean which habitats plenty of sea life and living organisms?

Land pollution is yet another problem that Hong Kong suffers from. From cigarette butts on the floor to glow sticks on the side of the street it’s not hard to find at least one piece of rubbish anywhere you look. Not only does it damage the environment but the toxins in the soil affect our respiratory systems negatively through food. Landfills also take up space and even cause more air pollution later when they’re burnt!

You can think of air pollution as the ‘bully’ part of pollution — it affects almost all areas of your life and you can never escape. It can damage your health severely and you never really stop thinking about it. In our case, air pollution mostly comes from vehicles, and has the ability to easily transmit disease, it’s a disadvantage for tourists who want to go sightseeing and it can damage our health since a lot of us live near roads. Even the economy has had a hard time in the past, keeping up with disease and trying to bring back investors who weren’t completely sure whether investing was a good idea or not.

Why does this affect us? Firstly, sea pollution can not only drive tourists away, but also affect our bodies and systems with pesticides and toxins, and can get into our bodies through reservoirs. Who would want to drink polluted water? Nevertheless it can cause the death of many sea creatures, which can greatly affect the fish market we have here. Land pollution can also affect us in many ways. It takes up lots of valuable space we could be using more efficiently, pollutes the air with burnt chemicals and even get washed up into the ocean and into our rivers. We won’t even be able to escape from air pollution (since it’s constantly surrounding us), and it’s damaging our bodies with every breath. We’re even getting closer and closer to it! With all of the roads near to houses it’s not hard to breathe in air pollution.

If all of this is happening, then what can you do? Well there are plenty of charities and foundations in Lantau that you can look into to raise awareness of pollution and its effects on Lantau. You don’t need to do much to help us, the ecosystem and our earth.

Community Concerns
by Josefine Bechgaard Lisse, Year 8, DBIS (12 years old)

WARNING: I apologise in advance for any inconvenience caused to dog owners.

DB, or Discovery Bay, looks like a boring little city where nothing happens (which is actually partly true). This makes it the perfect place for families to raise their children, nothing to worry about; or so it seems. There are SO many dogs in DB, hence the nickname Dogs and Babies, and more dogs means more unfriendly dogs. I’ve lived in DB for 10 years, and in that time have always been a bit uncomfortable around dogs, as I have had bad experience with them; both personal and from stories. I know what a problem it can be to feel uncomfortable around dogs, and living in DB, it’s even harder, and I don’t want anyone else to feel this way either. Therefore, I think we should do something about it.

When I was little, I have a strong memory of running up to my mum after a ballet class; I was so concentrated on getting to her that I didn’t see the huge Dalmatian running towards me. It jumped up on me, and I didn’t know it was being friendly. I thought it was attacking me and was going to bite me, so I panicked. It didn’t do anything of course, but I was scared. That leads to my first point: keep your dogs under control! In a place full of dogs and kids, you need to be extra aware of your dogs (and kids) so that these things don’t happen. It’s wonderful to have a pet, especially for kids (and I speak from experience; I had 10 goldfish), but younger children, who don’t have the experience, might not know how to handle dogs, especially if the owners aren’t careful which can lead to no good. And again, I speak from experience.

I had another incident on a playground with my friend, and she saw a cute, fluffy dog. She went over to pet it and it bit her hand, which was quite unexpected. Later, the helper who was walking the dog, told us that the dog didn’t like children, so it didn’t make sense that she brought the dog to a playground. That leads to my next point; be sensible. It’s kind of obvious that you shouldn’t bring a dog that hates children to a playground. That’s just an accident waiting to happen.

Adding to the list, there are some dogs that are a bit, well, crazy. There is a dog that lives I few floors above my friend’s house and it has bitten three people before, including the helper. It barks all the time too, really loudly, which can be a problem of course, when you need to sleep (especially in a community with lots of pilots, who need their sleep). I don’t quite understand why they haven’t done anything about the dog; that’s what dog obedience schools are for, right? In this case, it is quite a serious case, in which the dog would be removed from its owners in other countries, however Hong Kong’s dog policies are too “friendly”.

In the end, I believe we should do something about this. There have been accidents with dogs up in schools, playgrounds, parks, all around DB. This is only a growing problem, despite the various dog coaching lessons and so on. The increasing tourism in DB could also be affected by this. There are many, many different solutions, to this problem, such as stricter policies, more control etc, however in conclusion, I ask you dog owners one thing: could you please keep your dogs in a leash?

Lantau’s Fun Police
by Gabriel Kennish, DBIS

Recently around the whole of Lantau people have been angered and irritated by some of the strict ‘rules’ that have been made. People around Lantau have even come up with a name for them the ‘fun police’ that’s how it shows that people really are noticing them and their ‘rules’. As a member of the Lantau society I believe we need to address this issue.

Why? It is making outdoors activities unenjoyable as people aren’t allowed to let loose and have fun. Children are not using these outdoor resources as they can’t have fun and enjoy the time they have as the most fun thing they can do is sit waist deep in an applying pool. However, I do understand that some of these may be dangerous as you wouldn’t want a number of children experiencing painful injuries due to the security guards and lifeguards, etc. not doing their jobs properly. What people are angered about is the excessiveness of the rules and how many of the ‘rules’ shouldn’t be in place.

For example the rules in public pools, are a bit over the top as members of the public can’t use a squishy ball (that won’t cause damage to anyone), but anyway the main issue is that they aren’t letting children have fun. For example flipping in pools is dangerous however I can guarantee you that people that attempt to do that can actually perform those tricks successfully with no injuries, meaning people who know they can’t won’t try those skills. Shouldn’t the local management be concerned with people at rock pools and rooftops which in fact is more life threatening as there is no safety there.

That previous issue isn’t a big problem as these public facilities aren’t private and aren’t being spent money on. However the management are not letting people enjoy their own private property. For example the public can’t use their Swegways in plazas and public areas, people are sometimes not even being allowed to use their personal basketball hoops. As a person who owns a Swegway themselves I can say that I am extremely frustrated that I can’t use it as frequently as I did before as it simply isn’t allowed, it also causes money to be wasted and our parents to lose money that could’ve been spent on a new useful item. I hope that you have realised that this is a big problem that needs to be resolved one way or another as people aren’t enjoying being outside and are losing their money. 

Fun police on Lantau
by Daniel Bahamon, Year 8, DBIS

Lately on Lantau, many young people have been annoyed by overly strict and protective rules. It is understandable why there is a need for rules. It prevents injuries and people being agitated by others. However, as a resident of Lantau, I believe that some ‘rules’ are sometimes not necessary and/or are enforced too strictly.

The rules make some outdoor activities not as fun. At times, it’s not the rules that keep us from doing things, but the people enforcing them. These people, whether they are lifeguards or security officers, can be a bit boring or mean. Their decisions on what people can or cannot do are sometimes affected by their mood. For example, you are having fun in the pool, playing catch with a squishy ball that is very soft, so it won’t hurt anyone. If the lifeguard at that time is in a good mood, he might ask to feel the ball, judging whether it is safe or not. If it is too hard, then he takes it, if it is soft enough, you continue playing. I believe this is a fair system. On the other hand, if the lifeguard is in a bad mood, he will most likely tell you to stop right away, not caring if the ball will hurt anyone.

Another problem is that in some areas, we are not allowed to have basketball hoops outside our houses. I do not see any safety issues with this. As long as you don’t put it in the middle of road, I don’t see a problem, and security guards shouldn’t either. This especially a problem in Discovery Bay, as there are no public basketball courts for us to play on.

I don’t know if this is a problem in the whole of Lantau, but it definitely one in Discovery Bay. As a result of strict management and lack of facilities, it just make outdoor activities a bit less enjoyable.

Stay tuned for the next batch of entries, and don’t forget to cast your vote for the winner this Saturday!

The Around DB and Life on Lantau Young Writer’s Competition 2016 is made possible by Epicland, Hogbites Pork Snacks, Wild West Beef Jerky, and Bundu Biltong.

Photo from Erin Kohlenberg


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