Mon, Aug 14, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Awards ceremony honors teenagers' achievements

INSPIRING STORIES The Garden of Hope Foundation yesterday recognized the courage, determination and inventiveness of some of the nation's young women

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Cheng Yun-ju, 16, recipient of the Courage and Adventure Award at the 4th Daughter of Formosa Awards ceremony, gives her mother a kiss at an event held by the Garden of Hope Foundation yesterday. Although frequently suffering discomfort as a result of an rare digestive disease, Cheng leads a very active life.

PHOTO: SUNG CHIH-HSIUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

"I am a girl. That's why I live a fabulous life." This is the slogan of this year's Daughter of Formosa Awards because its winners show the passion and courage required to do so.

Cheng Yun-ju (鄭韻如), 16, was the winner of the Courage and Adventure Award at a ceremony held by The Garden of Hope Foundation yesterday.

When she was seven months old Cheng was the first child in the world to be diagnosed with a previously unknown disease of the digestive system.

Her illness means that she frequently suffers from high fever, nausea and diarrhea.

The congenital disease is terminal but this does not prevent her from living as full a life as possible, including swimming across Sun Moon Lake, skating and painting.

"I would like to let her enjoy every minute of her life, hoping this inspires her will to survive," her mother told the Taipei Times at the ceremony.

Receiving the award fulfilled the dream of her younger sister, who died of leukemia last year.

"People with rare disorders [like me] have to be strong. The world is not always dark. We just have to stop a while and take a look at the people who are always beside us," she said after the awards ceremony.

Similar strength was also displayed by the winner of the Public Service Award Juan Ching-yun (阮靖雲), a 13-year-old who has chosen to dedicate her life to being a special education teacher.

Among a group of students who initially volunteered to help out other students with mental and physical disabilities, Juan is the only one left who regularly takes part in the volunteer work.

Although she mainly offers companionship to the students, she said she had the bigger ambition of changing public perceptions of them.

"People think they are scary, but actually they are very kind," Juan said.

She said that she would like to become a bridge between the disabled and the rest of society in the future.

The same kind of devotion is also shown by Chen Hao-yan (陳皓嬿), the winner of the Science and Technology Award.

She said she finds inspiration from daily life.

Having used her kitchen as a laboratory since she was a small child, Chen's first scientific achievement was an experiment to find a cure for her dandruff when she was 13.

The 16-year-old has since won many awards in scientific competitions, through which she cultivated her ability to find solutions to problems.

"The happiness you get from being able to solve problems is unique," Chen. said. "I can feel the excitement inside my heart."

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