I was thrilled and delighted when I got the invitation from IWC Schaffhausen to go to the Shanghai Jingan Qihui Special Education School to congratulate this year's winner of the IWC Children's Drawing Competition in partnership with the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. I remembered seeing the beautiful Da Vinci Chronograph “Laureus Sport for Good Foundation” Edition (Ref. IW393402) watch with its unique blue colour at the Geneva Watch Exhibition early this year.
Hou Ye - Winner of the IWC Children’s Drawing Competion
This is the eleventh watch that IWC Schaffhausen and Laureus Sport for Good Foundation have issued through their partnership. Each year the winning artwork in the IWC Laureus Children’s Drawing Competition is engraved on the back of a special Laureus Edition watch, and part of the proceeds from the watch go to the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation to support its global philanthropic projects. The Shanghai Jingan Qihui Special Education School – the school of this year’s competition winner – the 12-year-old Hou Ye – is one of those projects.
The students of the Shanghai Jingan Qihui Special Education School are mainly children with intellectual disabilities, autism or other conditions that prevent them from normal learning and living. But it is those limitations that often make these children more innocent and more direct than other children of the same age. When we walked into the school with Olympic gymnastics star Li Xiaopeng that day, we could clearly feel the children's excitement and anticipation. Besides welcoming us at the entrance, they watched our every move and tried to attract our attention. They were so cute.
That's how this year’s winner Hou Ye was. The whole time we were there, he either took hold of Li Xiaopeng’s and his teacher's hands and held on tight, or was standing right next to them. I noticed that he seemed quite interested in the camera. He would often walk toward it with a smile on his face. He seemed so innocent and fascinating. Meanwhile, the other children, under their teachers’ guidance, put on a drumming show for us. Even though their movements weren't completely in sync, you could tell they had prepared a lot for this. For these children with intellectual and learning disabilities, to be able to move as one according to a routine is no small feat. I can imagine how much time they spent practising.
The Children from Shanghai Jingan Qihui Special Education School
In addition to enjoying the children’s performance and congratulating Hou Ye for winning the award, together with Li Xiaopeng we viewed the children’s work, handicrafts and other accomplishments. We also toured their learning environment, including the special rehab classrooms for students with different conditions. In the process, we also observed the parents and teachers at the children’s side. Their presence and guidance each step of the way enable these youngsters to gradually improve, grow and unleash their potential.
When are these children the happiest? My guess: when they get more attention and have more companionship. It is days like these when someone visits their school, enjoys their performance and exercises and plays games with them. Not all children are able to smile all the time and show their joy easily.
Perhaps some are unable to communicate to others the way they feel inside at a particular moment. But from their subtle body movements and changes in expression, I could sense their contentment from being accepted and cared about when they had people next to them being attentive and keeping them company. Perhaps this is a sensitivity I've developed after having just become a father.
When you put yourself in the shoes of these youngsters’ parents, you’ll realise how important and significant organisations like the Shanghai Jingan Qihui Special Education School are, as well as the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and IWC, which are supporting such organisations. They're providing these lovable children with more tangible and intangible forms of acceptance and companionship. And they create more possibilities.
So, the most meaningful thing about this visit wasn’t just that we met Hou Ye and learned about his drawing talents. More importantly, we were able to bring this group of youngsters a little caring and companionship and spent a happy afternoon with them.
I want to thank IWC Schaffhausen and Laureus Sport for Good Foundation again for giving me this opportunity to take part in this event. My abilities are limited, but I hope that by sharing my personal experiences, I can lead more people to join IWC and Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, as I have, in bringing more love and caring to these children. We must joyfully grasp more than we let slip by.
Ryan Chen Zhuonan is executive editor at Ming Watch Magazine. Li Xiaopeng is a Chinese gymnast holding 16 world titles. He wore the Da Vinci Chronograph “Laureus Sport for Good Foundation” Edition (Ref. IW393402) during the event.
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