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Group of recovered drug addicts-turned-life mentors nominated for Spirit of Hong Kong Awards

South China Morning Post logo South China Morning Post 10/8/2020 Eddie Lee eddie.lee@scmp.com
a group of people posing for the camera: Spirit of Hong Kong Awards nominees of the WeCycle team. (L-R) Dennis Cheung, Benjamin Im, Chan Suet-ying, and Chan Hiu-fai. Photo: Xiaomei Chen © SCMP Spirit of Hong Kong Awards nominees of the WeCycle team. (L-R) Dennis Cheung, Benjamin Im, Chan Suet-ying, and Chan Hiu-fai. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

For Chan Suet-ying, where there's a wheel, there's a way to make a fresh start.

As a member of the WeCycle team, which regularly conducts free docent-led tours and pedals through some remote parts of the city to serve the needy, the former drug addict has biked away from her past struggles and found new meaning in life.

Chan, who had used drugs such as midazolam for about 10 years before joining WeCycle in 2016, noted the transformative power of sport she had felt while attending the docent training sessions provided by the group.

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In addition to having her stamina improved, she discovered the importance of teamwork.

"Together we go further," Chan said of her experience.

Teammate Benjamin Im Ka-yeung, also a recovered addict, said team spirit was a crucial part of their work.

"We have a common goal," he said.

Formed in 2014 and sponsored by the Beat Drugs Fund, WeCycle had recruited about 300 recovering drug addicts, who trained to become docents and volunteers.

Apart from taking fellow Hongkongers on cycling trips to the North District and sharing their personal experiences in battling addiction with the participants, the team of volunteers cares for the elderly by cutting their hair and spending time with them in games that help them maintain their cognitive abilities.

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The group, based in Cheer Lutheran Centre in Sheung Shui, believes the provision of guided tours and charity services will help former drug addicts integrate with the community and prove their worth.

To study how exercise can help conquer addiction, it also collaborated with Professor Leung Chi-hung, a psychologist at the Education University of Hong Kong, on research projects.

Its work has earned the team a nomination for this year's Spirit of Hong Kong Awards.

The annual event, co-organised by the South China Morning Post and property developer Sino Group, honours the accomplishments of people whose endeavours may go unnoticed.

a group of people standing on a mask posing for the camera: Members of WeCycle team believe guided tours and charity services will help former drug addicts integrate with the community. Photo: Xiaomei Chen © Provided by South China Morning Post Members of WeCycle team believe guided tours and charity services will help former drug addicts integrate with the community. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

Chan Hiu-fai, centre-in-charge of the Cheer Lutheran Centre, recommended the WeCycle team for this year's Spirit of Teamwork Award, which recognises unsung groups that embrace their roles as socially responsible corporate citizens.

Chan Hiu-fai said members of the WeCycle team had transformed themselves from drug users into life mentors.

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"They tell their personal stories and explain to people why they should never give up in life," he said.

Dennis Cheung Pak-shun, a social worker and co-founder of WeCycle, said many of his colleagues were able to perform various functions, as the team continued to broaden its mission in serving the community.

"(Members of WeCycle) are all required to undergo rigorous training," he said, adding that it was more important that they worked as a team.

"We stay together to embrace everything, including failure."

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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.

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