Po Leung Kuk Museum
International Museum Day 2020 Special Online Exhibition
“Boundless Compassion: The Origin of Po Leung Kuk Rehabilitation Service” Historic Photo Exhibition
“Diversity and Inclusion” is the theme of International Museum Day 2020, which also coincides perfectly with the objective of Po Leung Kuk’s rehabilitation services. Since the 1970s, the Kuk has been dedicated to providing the best care and training for the disabled community, assisting them to cultivate and develop their full potential, so as to create a diverse and inclusive society for all.
To echo with the theme of “Diversity and Inclusion”, this online thematic exhibition focuses on the Kuk’s rehabilitation service; featuring historic photos from the 1970s and 1980s, the exhibition traces the origin and important milestones, and brings visitor on a retrospective view at the path of the history of this meaningful service.
The Origin of Rehabilitation Services: The “Retarded Children Section”
The Chinese name of “Po Leung” connotes “protection of women and children”, it is clear that children is an important stakeholder from the beginning of the Kuk’s establishment. The work of the Kuk began with children, likewise the rehabilitation services sprang from the “Retarded Children Section” in the West Wing Building on Leighton Road.
The earliest record of the Kuk’s services for the mentally handicapped children can be traced back to the 1960s. They were accommodated at the Domestic Science Annexe for centralised care. Although these children could not live with their parents, with the greatest attention and care demonstrated by staffs, the Kuk was a second home for them to grow and blossom.
Professional personnel training is one of the important element in the rehabilitation services. In 1964, the Kuk erected an additional storey on the Vocational Training Building, of which a classroom was dedicated to the training of this particular professionals. The additions was completed in 1965, and its opening ceremony was attended by Ms. J. E. Rowe, officer in charge of special education of the Education Bureau.
Milestone in the 1970s: Kwai Shing Children’s Training Centre
In the 1970s, demands for children rehabilitation services soared; however, only Siu Lam Hospital, Pine Hill Severe Grade Unit and Home of Living Faithfulness were providing limited services at that time. Facing strong demand for the services, the Government announced a plan to build more multiple residential and day care centres in May 1977; In July the same year, the Social Welfare Department announced a sponsorship for 3 welfare organisations, of which the Kuk was one of them, to open new centres to take care of the mentally handicapped children. These development in 1977 are important milestones in the history of rehabilitation services in Hong Kong, after the opening of Siu Lam Hospital by Medical and Health Department in 1972.
Special Education: Po Leung Kuk Centenary School
In 1977, the Government published a white paper on rehabilitation works, of which that education of the intellectually disabled children under 16 years old was handed over to the Education Bureau from the Social Welfare Department. In response to the new direction, the Kuk’s children rehabilitation service was handed over to the Education Affairs Department. In the same year, the Kuk applied to the Education Bureau for running a new special school, and was granted the lower floors of a school building in Choi Wan Estate in Kowloon. The set up cost was funded by the Board of Directors of 1977-78.
In September 1978, the Po Leung Kuk Centenary School was established. It was the first special school opened for the moderately mentally handicapped children for both the Kuk and the Education Bureau. Catering for children from age 6 to 16, the school provides diversified education services.
After the 1970s, the Kuk’s rehabilitation services entered a stage of rapid growth, with service units opened across different areas of Hong Kong.
Coping with the changing social needs, the Kuk expanded the scope of its rehabilitation services, extending to the physically handicapped and the ex-mentally ill persons, etc. Aside from its original residential and day training centres, the Kuk provided a wide variety of services, such as vocational rehabilitation, community support, employment assistance, allied health, social enterprise and pre-primary services like special child care centre and school on site support, etc.
Today, the Kuk has more than 40 rehabilitation services units. Nevertheless it remains true to the original aspiration in the 1970s; Upholding the core mission of enabling an equal opportunity for the handicapped to develop and realise their potentials, the rehabilitation services is a witness to the Kuk’s long tradition of serving the community with love and dedication, and will continue to strive for a diverse and inclusive society in Hong Kong.