Grace Zheng: Empowering Youth Changemakers in Hong Kong
Hi everyone, Spiffy here, your one and only interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth. I’m thrilled to be talking to Grace Zheng, an entrepreneur working to make the world a better place as the president of the Kids4Kids Advocates Leadership Team. Are you ready to be enlightened?
Spiffy: It’s wonderful to meet you, Grace. I’m curious about what challenges Kids4Kids is addressing. What can you tell me?
Grace: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! It’s wonderful to be here. Kids4Kids envisions a future where all youths are all empowered with the belief that they are never too young to change the world. By creating a culture of community, responsibility, and mutual respect, Kids4Kids creates a journey for young people to become socially responsible individuals and active agents of change. Through our network, young people can also build confidence, discover their inner powers, and find ways to use their strengths to positively impact the community.
Spiffy: That sounds wonderful. What motivated you to do it, Grace?
Grace: I began my journey with Kids4Kids in the Action for a Cause program, where I received mentorship and funding to run my own community project. Through my experience, I was able to see first hand how my peers and I could make a real difference in our community. Empowered by my experience, I wanted to continue this cycle of empowerment by bringing the same opportunities I received to other youths. I joined the Advocates Leadership Team in 2019, working on growing Kids4Kids initiatives with youths all across Hong Kong.
Spiffy: How is Kids4Kids working towards a more equitable world, do you think?
Grace: Well, I think we all understand the importance of cultivating our youth, but in a city like Hong Kong where schools are notorious for being academically driven, not every youth has the opportunity to develop their confidence or problem-solving skills. Kids4Kids changes this by enabling youths to explore their strengths, giving them an opportunity to learn from industry experts, and empowering them to start their own community projects. In total, Kids4Kids has funded over 187 projects by youths.
Spiffy: Wow. So tell me about a recent Kids4Kids milestone or initiative. What impact does that make?
Grace: For the past two years, I’ve been working on the creation of the new Kids4Kids Youth website. A platform built by youth for youth; it’s a place where students can find information on upcoming events and opportunities, as well as get inspired by other young changemakers in the community. The website also replaces the thick booklets we used to give out at events, which is something I’m personally very proud of—I like to think there are a few hundred trees that will be saved there.
Spiffy: You should be proud of that! I’m very curious about how entrepreneurs deal with failure. Could you share an experience when you faced it and didn’t give up? What did you learn from it?
Grace: We were planning a Valentine’s Fundraiser for a long time but faced continuous challenges on the logistical side, especially with health and safety. Last minute, we decided to turn our fundraiser online, creating a ‘wall of love’ on the Kids4Kids Youth website where people could submit messages for their loved ones. Even though we were slightly skeptical of the idea at first, the wall was a great success and we truly saw the community coming together. It shows that any idea deserves a chance!
Spiffy: Absolutely! Now, before I let you go, I have one last question. I believe you can learn from anyone and I love lessons from kids, peers, or even pets. What is something you’ve unexpectedly learned from someone recently?
Grace: Every time we work on something new, I am surprised by the overwhelming amount of support and understanding our community offers us. I do think it’s a growing trend—increasingly, NGOs and corporations are willing to work with youths and listen to youth voices—it’s their way of acknowledging that young people are our future. For us, it’s also continuously seeing the trust that the staff, our beneficiaries and members of the community give us that allows us to continue doing what we do.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Grace, it’s been an honor!
Grace Zheng is a firm believer in youth empowerment. In addition to her role as the President of the Kids4Kids Advocates Leadership Team, she is the Executive Director of the 24 Hour Race and supports a number of initiatives focused on the SDGs. She also has an extremely sweet tooth. (Nominated by ISSIA HK. First published on the Ladderworks website on December 14, 2021)
© 2021 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s interviews of founders building a more equitable world here.