The Gold Award Holders’ Alumni (GAHA) and Tampines East Community Club Silver Connect came together to organise an outing for the senior citizens of Tampines East on 11th November 2012, to celebrate Grandparents’ Day as well as to promote youth-elderly bonding. 18 enthusiastic GAHA youths and 17 other volunteers from Silver Connect accompanied 32 seniors on a trip to Gardens by the Bay.
NYAA GAHA together with the Council for Third Age(C3A) and Temasek Design School will be co-organising a fashiow show project – “Ageing is Beautiful”. It will be held on3rd April 2011in conjunction with the 50+ Singapore Expo 2011. The 50+ Singapore Expo is an event organised by the C3A and supported by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports. The Expo is targeted for those aged 50 and above and will have exhibitions devoted to shopping, performances, talks, demonstrations and more.
We are on the lookout for GAHA volunteers interested to help in the organsing and running of the ‘Ageing is Beautiful’ project, which involves students from the Temasek Design School designing clothes for a group of seniors and their children/grandchildren to bridge the generation gap and enhance the mental and physical well-being of our seniors in today’s youth-orientated culture. The children/grandchildren of the seniors will partner them to do a fashion show down the runway. GAHA members who are interested to help out in this event can contact Gary at GARY@NYAAGAHA.ORGby 28th Feb 2011.
What shall I do with this absurdity-
O heart, O troubled heart- this caricature,
Decrepit age that has been tied to me
As to a dog’s tail?
William Butler Yeats expressed in ‘The Tower’ the dilemma of ageing; the denial of it and the resistance towards the notion of old age in the view of an adult undergoing the process of ageing. They feel more passionate and inspired than ever, but because of the stereotypes attached to ageing, they think that they ought not to feel that way- resulting in the difficulty of reconciling the notions attached to old age and their own thoughts regarding it.
Too often, youths like us tend to attach too many stereotypes to ageing. We think of ageing as a process associated with the gradual loss of youthful exuberance and liveliness, we too often think that the older generation unlike us, lack creativity and, if I were to quote another line from the poem, ‘must bid the Muse go pack, Choose Plato and Plotinus for a friend’.
That would reflect my sentiments before attending the YO! Forum. However, the forum has changed my perspective on the issue of ageing, particularly in highlighting causes, which youths like me can serve.
The morning visit to Fei Yue Neighbourhood Link at Bukit Batok was an eye opener for me, as I learnt about the various activities that the centre organizes to encourage active ageing and intergenerational bonding (IGB) and the purposes that they serve in bridging the gap between the young and the seniors, and to allow for better appreciation and setting up common grounds between the two distinctly different generations. We were also fortunate to have a chance to engage in IGB activities, such as fingerprint art, where we were paired up with other seniors and worked with them to create pieces of art. Even though we were all amateurs, it was certainly heartening to see the seniors hard at work, unleashing their creativity, and most importantly working hand-in-hand with the young at the craft project. My group members certainly enjoyed the activity; and I believe the seniors were glad to engage in interaction with the younger generation. I believe that IGB activities are definitely an area where youths can venture into, where we can bridge the communication gap between the younger and older generation. I am sure the other 4 groups that went to YAH! Community College, Silver Circle Wellness @ Punggol South, Lion Befrienders Neighbourhood Link and Presbyterian Community Services Evergreen Circle also had equally engaging experiences.
Also, brainstorming sessions with my teams, as well as the dialogue session with Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan set me thinking. One of the questions that bugged my mind was- How can we, as youths, play our part in engaging with our seniors? During the brainstorming sessions, much emphasis was placed on engaging the seniors in learning, setting up interest groups comprising of seniors, and we even thought of the possibility of coming up with TV programs such as the popular singing competition ‘Singapore Idol’ but with a twist- not just the suave young man or the typical pretty lady, but active seniors who have the courage to sing their hearts out on national TV.
After consolidating our ideas, I believe that youths can play a huge part in interacting with our seniors. As youths, we can contribute our passion and enthusiasm in engaging in IGB activities, such as engaging the seniors in learning new skills. We can equip them with a new skill like art and craft- as art not only communicates, it drives communication as well. Communication is effective in eradicating the barriers between the younger generation and the seniors, who typically have a negative impression of each other- youths are hot headed, impatient and insensitive; seniors are ‘naggy’, ‘old-fashioned’ and too ‘conservative’- in our words, that is- well, not anymore, if we get to know each other better.
Learning does not only take place where youths teach seniors, seniors can teach youths as well- imparting valuable knowledge through their life stories, or just like us teaching them decoupage or cross stitch; they can similarly teach us crafts from their generation.
All in all, the YO! Forum has certainly been an engaging one for me, and has prompted me to think about ways through which youths like us can engage the elderly- So that even as our population ages, we are still full of vitality, vigour and verve.
Following the success of the initiative of “Letters From Grandma and Grandpa” in 2007, the National Library Board(NLB) and Ministry of Community, Youth and Sports and the Council for Third Age launched the “To My Grandpa/Grandma” Contest in 2008 to foster inter-generational bonds. Its media partners are The Straits Time, STOMP and My Paper.
The contest attracted a total of 1,000 entries for Singaporeans to share their stories and memories about their grandparents. There were three categories: Primary Schools, Secondary Schools and the Open Category. Participants can choose to express themselves through writing or producing a digital video. As many as 120 letters, were picked for a three book series called I Remember: To My Grandpa/Grandma.
GAHA members like Ms Ong Ying Shya, Ms Ka Mung, Mr Gary Shen and Mr Shawn Low are invited to be part of the external selection panel to evaluate the shortlisted submission for the final rounds of entries in each category.
The six prize winners, two written entries from each of the three categories received the top prize of tour package for two to Japan from Mr Lui Tuck Yew, Senior Minister of State for Education, and Information, Communication and the Arts, who was also the Guest-of-Honour for the event.
In collaboration with the Radin Mas CC Youth Group and Bukit Purmei Zone ‘A’ RC Senior Citizen’s Club, the NYAA GAHA organised a Youth– Elderly Integration walk on 25 October 2008. We covered historic monuments on the Civic District Trail located at City Hall and also went into the Esplanade. The activity is the third of the walk series under the Health Works @ Bukit Purmei project, and is a follow-up on the fall assessment coupled with hypocount and blood pressure measurements, which was conducted earlier in the year.Aimed at bridging the inter-generational gap between the youths and elderly while allowing both to learn more about the historic monuments and the Esplanade, the walk brought more than 40 senior citizens, aged 60 years and above and 15 youths together. Unlike the first two walks, this walk incorporated a line dancing session which proved to be a hit amongst the elderly, some of whom, it turned out, dance very regularly!The walk began with an introduction of the Sir Stamford Raffles Statue in front of the Singapore River. As we moved on to the Asian Civilisation Museum and Victoria Theatre, it was interesting to learn from the elderly other names (in other dialects) and former uses for these buildings that are not in our history books. It was evident from the smiles captured in the photos that everyone had a thoroughly enjoyable time!
Soon, we reached the Esplanade Park to get a bird’s eye view of the city, before continuing with the other main activity of the day: line dancing.The dance was conducted at the open area beside Tan Kim Seng Fountain. Some basic moves were first taught to the elderly, most of whom grasped the moves almost immediately. When the music was played, it became clear that some of the elderly can dance better than the youths!
On our trail back to our ending point: The Arts House, we passed by the Padang and the Old Supreme Court. The hot weather did not deter the elderly from sharing their experiences with the youths as well as taking photographs of and with the buildings. As the end of the outing, as the elderly and youth volunteers waved goodbye to each other, it was clear that the walk series has been a great learning experience for both the elderly and the youths, and that the memories of the Health works Project and outings which the elderly and youths share are fond and warm memories.