‘To prepare to throw a dart, first we need to lean forward slightly and bend the elbow at 90 degrees. Then to pull back the arm…’Secondary 4 student Chow King-ho smoothly introduced the sport of darts. His eyes glittered when shooting the darts and every dart firmly hit on the dartboard exactly where he aimed. The sharpness of his gaze and the degree of concentration were impressive. It is almost difficult to imagine he was a quiet and unsociable teenager two years ago.

Silent and aloof
King-ho joined the dart group of The Salvation Army’s Learning Motivation Training Project when he was in S.2. King-ho described his old self before joining the group as ‘very quiet’. ‘Most of the time I only played video games – I could play more than 10 hours straight in one day.’ Mr Cheung Tik-sang, vice-principal of CNEC Lee I Yao Memorial Secondary School where King-ho is studying, is responsible for student affairs and he recalled that King-ho was quiet and restrained in his junior years. Since King-ho seldom talked to others, the others were staying away from him as well, and he often failed to hand in his homework. Mr Cheung also remembered King-ho’s mother said that her son only played video games and seemed to have neither goal in life nor intention to express himself, so he had been looking for some activities or supportive project that could help King-ho to open up.

Through the referral of the school, King-ho joined the dart group of The Learning Motivation Training Project. The group instructor Ip Ngan-chu, who has been teaching darts for 4 years, recalled that when she first met King-ho, he was a teenager who lowered his head a lot and often avoided eye contact.

‘He was so quiet that he hardly made any reaction or interaction with others. Sometimes I could not tell how much he has learnt in the practice, or whether he accepted me as an instructor.’

Strive to improve dart skills
At the beginning, King-ho was not able to hit precisely and his performance was the worst in the group. Still he kept trying and gradually grew interest in darts. To improve his techniques, he was spending time on practising darts instead of playing games. To keep his touch for the game, he visited different venues for dart practice, and watched dart competitions on the internet so that he could observe the stances and movements of professional players and improve his own. Among all the professional players, King­ho admires Japanese player Masumi Chino most as his movements are so perfect and easy to learn.

His hard work paid off well, now he can effortlessly hit the bullseye three times in a row. During the time he has joined many competitions and gained experiences. Most importantly he has made a group of ‘dart mates’ through the Project and now they would meet regularly at school and at centre to practise darts. The group also does volunteer work to teach children and elderly how to throw darts.

Positive changes witnessed by others
Although King-ho is not conscious of his changes, the others can see them clearly. Instructor Ip thinks King­ho is now more active with more interactions with his group, and she can see that he now has goals and becomes happier. Vice-principal Mr Cheung is particularly pleased with King-ho’s concentration when throwing darts, and he has nothing but praise for King-ho’s achievement.

‘He is still not exactly talkative but he has become more responsible. He has talent and we have high hope for him. When he made a mistake in a competition, I could see him being lost and frustrated, but he was able to recover quickly afterwards and face the challenges again. Also, his initiative increased, for example, he joined the class committee in S.3 and did volunteer work with his dart mates. He and his dart mates are now the core members of our school dart team, and I am excited to see his future development.’

Learning Motivation Training Project – Darts
The Salvation Army started in September 2017 to provide learning motivation training for junior secondary school students in Tai Wo Hau District, and is currently working with 4 schools. Through the medium of darts, the Project gives training for teenagers with relatively low learning ability and confidence, helping them to increase their concentration level and learning motivation. Apart from the regular practice, there are regular competitions and activities in the centre for these teenagers to gain positive experiences which nurture self­confidence and a sense of achievement. The Project also aims to improve their self-images and train their resilience in the face of adversity as well as emotional management skills.