Shaping an Inclusive Future: The Collaborative Impact of Reach & Match and Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children (HKSPC)

In Hong Kong, the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic still affect young children’s development today. In particular, a 2022 report from the Hong Kong Journal of Paediatrics suggests that the pandemic has adversely impacted learning as well as psychosocial and physical health, causing preschoolers to be less ‘school ready’ than usual. 

With numbers rising with the early identification of children with special education needs (SEN) through Hong Kong’s On-site Pre-school Rehabilitation Services, more work in classrooms needs to be done to truly differentiate for SEN students.

children in the classroom are very curious with the reach and match inclusive education kit

Children are very curious to explore the Reach & Match Inclusive Education Kit

Returning to her hometown and Hong Kong’s bustling cityscape, Mandy Lau, the Founder of Reach & Match, was delighted to continue the work she began in 2017 with Tung Wah nursery schools, where the Reach & Match difference has already touched the lives of many children to date.

With Mandy’s experience growing up in Hong Kong, where children of difference are often excluded in school, she was particularly moved to know she could support change for those “who need it the most.”

This time, Mandy is scaling this impact further via a transformative partnership with the Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children (HKSPC).Established in 1926, HKSPC stands as one of Hong Kong’s oldest non-profit organisations, advocating for the rights and welfare of children. Partially funded by the government, HKSPC caters to approximately 3,000 children and their families daily. 

The teacher is teaching a new Reach & Match games to the students.

A Shared Vision and Successful Partnership

Reach & Match is an Australian-based social enterprise dedicated to creating inclusive learning environments for children of all abilities within the complexities of exisiting educational systems. The Reach & Match Inclusive Learning Program has garnered global acclaim, emphasising its commitment to fostering holistic child development. 

The intensive 2-day workshop in Hong Kong empowers educators with confident and thorough training using Reach & Match Learning Kits, which includes tactile braille/print alphabet tiles and play mats designed to cater for every child with differentiation. 

One significant aspect of this partnership is the introduction of play-based pedagogy, where teachers were encouraged to step back and allow children to explore the Reach & Match Learning Kits independently, fostering creativity through supported autonomy. This innovative approach resonated with the children, who responded with open-ended questions and shared their own imaginative ideas, signifying the success of the inclusive learning model. 

Among the many educators and professionals participating are HKSPC’s Director and Head of Education Ms. Subrina Chow and Deputy Director Ms. Mary Wong, who join in discovering the joy of play-based pedagogy. (Seen below)

HKSPC director and teachers are playing on reach and match

HKSPC’s Director and Head of Education Ms. Subrina Chow reflects on the nature of true inclusion: 

“Inclusion is when they can all participate. Just having the kids all together isn’t real inclusion. I was thinking about whether or not all games [from Reach & Match] can be truly inclusive for everyone, and I realised its is, but it’s the job of the educator to make it possible.”

Another senior educator shares how effective Reach & Match is, mentioning that “even as one tool, there can be so many activities that can be differentiated into different ability levels.” 

Others reflected on how significant the educator’s approach is and that even with simple actions, inclusion can be built into the day, sharing how she noticed students helping each other to problem solve and that without her intervention, the students were able to work develop skills with shapes, letters, patterns and the appropriate motor skills. 

The Impact of Inclusive Education Partnership

The impact of this partnership goes beyond the classrooms. The Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children (HKSPC) operates several services, including daycares and nursery schools, where Reach & Match will continue to create a significant contribution. 

In leveraging the shared commitment to creating positive change and promoting inclusive education, this collaboration between HKSPC and Reach & Match transcends educational tools and resources. 

Like HKSPC’s Deputy Director of Child Care and Education Ms. Mary Wong says, “The positive atmosphere and feelings of enjoyment within the classroom is really important. With the right atmosphere, there is opportunity for learning. Going to school needs to be a happy experience … The multisensory environment [that Reach & Match provides] creates that.” 

Subrina Chow Director of HKSPC, Mandy Lau (Reach & Match), Mary Wong (Deputy Director Childcare and Education) and Yonnie Lam (Service Director)

To explore a partnership with Reach & Match or find out more, contact Reach & Match Founder and Director Mandy Lau at Mandy.Lau@reachandmatch.com