“Furniture for Our Future” Project – for Families of Sub-divided Units Community distribution kicks off to enhance learning

Organised by the Jockey Club Design Institute for Social Innovation (JCDISI) of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) and funded by Hongkong Land HOME FUND (HOME FUND), the “Furniture for Our Future” Project – for Families of Sub-Divided Units (the Project) has tailored 2,000 sets of ergonomically designed furniture (the furniture set), consisting of a study desk, a chair, and auxiliary accessories, for improving the learning environment of children residing in sub-divided units (SDUs). The first batch of 180 furniture sets will be delivered to SDUs families in Kowloon City District in late November, benefiting a total of 184 children. In collaboration with local non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the remaining batches will be distributed in Yau Tsim Mong, Sham Shui Po, Siu Sai Wan, and Kwai Tsing districts in the first half of 2023.

JCDISI is committed to realising social innovation through trans-disciplinary collaboration, multi-faceted community engagement, and cross-sector collaboration. The Project successfully built bridges between academic knowledge and community needs by forming an interdisciplinary research team with JCDISI, the Department of Biomedical Engineering, the School of Optometry and the School of Design of PolyU to design a SDUs-friendly furniture set for children aged 4 to 16, who are at potential risk of scoliosis and myopia due to a poor sitting posture caused by limited space and lack of natural light in SDUs. The furniture set is designed to be durable, movable and adjustable in order to fit in with different spatial setups.

The furniture set consists of the following:

  • Foldable, height-adjustable, and tiltable learning desk: It can be pulled towards the bed to shorten the distance between children and the desk for writing and reading.

  • Detachable ergonomic chair set: Upper part of the chair is detachable and can be placed on the bed for use. The supportive backrest and the cushion can provide support to the spine so that the children can maintain a proper sitting posture.

  • Footrests with three different heights: The heights can help children of different heights maintain proper sitting posture.

  • Reading partition: It separates children from complex visual environments and reduces the adverse effects on visual development to improve concentration in children.

  • Rechargeable light with adjustable brightness and colour: The light provides appropriate lighting for studying to protect children’s vision.

The research team believes the furniture set can improve the learning environment as well as the physical and mental well-being of children living in SDUs while increasing their self-efficacy and confidence, thereby promoting the upward mobility of youth in the long run. The Project has translated professional knowledge into practical applications to respond to the community’s needs, which embodies the University’s mission of knowledge creation, dissemination and transfer. The team added that the standardised design of the furniture set is conducive to production at scale so that co-creation can be adopted by the wider community and support a larger proportion of children in need.

Mr LING Kar-kan, Director of JCDISI of PolyU, said, “To make social innovation tangible and sustainable, cross-sector and disciplinary efforts are a must to achieve positive impact. We believe that the furniture set specially designed for children living in SDUs can create a ‘micro-environment’ that is conducive to learning in a cramped and disordered environment which is essential to children’s development. We hope that we can continue to maximise the project’s impact by connecting stakeholders to tap into more community resources to benefit more children, thus making a sustained impact in the community.”

Mr HO Chung Ho, Service Supervisor, The Salvation Army Youth, Family and Community Services, remarked, “More than 90% of the registered families have participated in the briefing session for the distribution, reflecting that the custom-tailored furniture set is highly welcomed by the SDUs families. The design of the study desk and chair for children living in SDUs not only practically meet the families’ real needs, but also boost children’s motivation to study by creating a healthy learning environment and designated study space. In addition, the furniture set can also help raise parents’ awareness of their children’s physical and mental development, including spine and vision condition.”

Mr. Robert WONG, Chief Executive of Hongkong Land, said, “Since its inception, Hongkong Land HOME FUND has been committed to addressing social issues related to housing in Hong Kong. Over the past two years, HOME FUND has been actively collaborating with various NGOs to provide diverse programmes aimed at supporting the disadvantaged living in sub-divided units. An example of such a collaboration is our work with JCDISI of PolyU. Together we produced an ergonomically designed furniture set, enabling a conducive learning environment for nearly 2,000 children living in sub-divided units. We are delighted to collaborate with JCDISI on this project – a project that demonstrates how organisations and institutions can support the youth and therefore the wider community.”

About Jockey Club Design Institute for Social Innovation of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Established in 2012, JCDISI of PolyU is committed to providing an innovative and human-centred platform to ENVISION a better life in society, to CONNECT people with passion and NURTURE doers of all ages to INNOVATE with collective wisdom to ENABLE impactful action.

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