• Published Date: 26 May 2019

               From mass work-out sessions to cognitive activity workshops and health talks, elderly residents living in the east and north-east of Singapore can look forward to more activities in their neighbourhood, with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by the Housing & Development Board (HDB) and Temasek Polytechnic’s (TP) School of Humanities & Social Sciences. The three-year collaboration will see students from the school’s Diploma in Social Sciences in Gerontology (GEM) programme putting into practice what they have learnt to plan and organise programmes tailored at helping elderly residents remain healthy, active and involved in their community. The students will implement these activities for residents living in Punggol, Sengkang, Hougang, Bedok, Tampines and Pasir Ris Towns.


    2          The MOU signing was witnessed by Senior Minister of State and Mayor of South East District, Dr Maliki Osman at the launch of the inaugural Silver Fitness and Wellness Carnival, held in conjunction with the HDB Community Week 2019.


    Partnership with Temasek Polytechnic: Young Citizens Helping to Shape Active and Cohesive Communities


    3          Temasek Polytechnic has been an active partner in HDB’s community-building efforts, with their students tapping on the HDB Friendly Faces, Lively Places (FFLP) fund to run activities targeted at drawing elderly residents out of their homes to interact with other residents.


    4          The MOU will formalise the partnership and offer a wider range of platforms for the students to programme activities that benefit the elderly in the community. With their skills and knowledge to understand the evolving needs and aspirations of older adults, and ways to create a more inclusive and age-friendly society, the students can play a key role in developing programmes and services that promote the physical, cognitive and socio-emotional well-being of seniors, so that they can age healthily and actively.


    5          HDB’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Cheong Koon Hean said: “Communities hold the key to town vibrancy. In our quest to build vibrant and cohesive communities in HDB towns and estates, we are constantly looking for ways to enliven our community spaces and bring the community together. To encourage ground-up community projects, we provide support through the HDB Friendly Faces, Lively Places Fund, and facilitate heartland volunteerism under the “Friends of Our Heartlands” network. Our partnership with Temasek Polytechnic will enable young members within the community to play an active role in shaping their environment, take greater ownership in caring for their town, and contribute to building up their community. Through this partnership, we look forward to seeing more elderly residents being active both inside and outside their homes, and the students gaining a richer experience and appreciation of the career paths they have chosen.”


    6          Under this collaboration, HDB will offer the following:


    a. Sponsorship of research topics relating to ageing and community development for the students to carry out as their final-year projects. As part of their curriculum, final-year students in the GEM programme undertake research studies to hone their knowledge and skills. The research topics, to be proposed by HDB, could include how to help seniors maintain their physical and mental health, design common spaces to be more age-friendly and inclusive, and encourage senior residents to volunteer for community activities. The findings of these research will be useful in helping HDB to design spaces and plan activities that better meet the needs of elderly residents. 


    b. Internship opportunities for the students to develop their professional skills. To prepare the students for further education or career opportunities, HDB will offer internships at its Community Relations Group. Through the internships, students can gain practical, hands-on experience in managing and organising community events for the elderly in HDB estates.


    c. Volunteering opportunities for students to engage with the elderly under Project SPHERE, a community programme initiated by HDB with support from the Ministry of Education and Singapore Pools. “SPHERE” stands for Students, Singapore Pools and HDB Enriching and Reaching Out to the Elderly. Through Project SPHERE, students can play a big part in bringing more cheer to seniors living in HDB rental flats, and show care and compassion for others.


    d. Funding of up to $7,000 per annum under the HDB Friendly Faces, Lively Places Fund for student-led activities aimed at the elderly. One activity currently being planned by the students is a series of mass exercises aimed at encouraging seniors to lead an active lifestyle. The activity will be held at various community spaces such as Senior Activity Centres (SACs) and void decks in Punggol, Sengkang, Hougang, Bedok, Tampines and Pasir Ris Towns.


    Seniors can look forward to learning simple stretching and strengthening exercises using stretch bands, which will not be overly strenuous. More importantly, they can continue to do these simple exercises at home, and create their own exercise regime around it to stay healthy. Although targeted mainly at seniors, these workout sessions will also be open to residents of all ages, to encourage intergenerational community bonding.


    In addition to these exercise sessions, the students are also planning a series of hands-on workshops where residents can take part in activities such as handicraft. This will help to stimulate their cognitive functions, and improve hand-eye coordination.


    Through these activities, the students will also get feedback from the participants and explore how they can be roped in to organise similar activities for their fellow residents in future. 


    7          Mr Ben Lim, Director of Temasek Polytechnic’s School of Humanities & Social Sciences, said, “This MOU provides opportunities for our students to interact with residents of all ages and helps them develop meaningful intergenerational programmes for the community as part of their training. It’s a win-win partnership and augurs well with the polytechnic’s mission to prepare our graduates with relevant skills for the real world.”


    8          Under the collaboration, HDB and TP target to reach out to elderly residents in all the 16 SACs and two elder-care centres in Punggol, Sengkang, Hougang, Bedok, Tampines and Pasir Ris, over the next three years. By 2021, it is estimated that some 750 Gerontology students would have been involved in planning, organising, and participating in the various initiatives, reaching out to about 3,000 elderly residents living in these areas.


    Inaugural Silver Fitness and Wellness Carnival: Designing Activities for a More Inclusive Community


    9          Today’s Silver Fitness and Wellness Carnival, held at Bedok Town Plaza, marks the first project to be carried out under the MOU. The event was planned and implemented by some 70 students, with support from HDB.  


    10        The carnival features a range of activities and programmes targeted to boost the physical and mental well-being of all ages. Besides a mass stretching exercise, it also includes a talk on “Mindfulness”. Conducted by Dr Chee Chew Sim from Temasek Polytechnic’s Centre for Applied Gerontology, participants will learn how increased mental mastery can help reduce stress levels and pain, as well as enhance focus and memory. There is also a “Brain Gym” workshop featuring brain-teaser games developed by the students, designed to stimulate memory, attention and logical thinking. Other activities include a radial symmetry batik painting workshop to help sharpen hand-eye coordination, and an exhibition to share with the community information on healthy diets and types of physical activities that are beneficial for seniors. Those looking for a special gift for Father’s Day can also create their own personalised leather pouches and greeting cards at the handicraft workshops organised by residents and volunteers from HDB’s Friends of Our Heartlands network.


    11        Over the next three years, HDB and TP will continue to organise annual runs of the Silver Fitness and Wellness Carnival to benefit even more elderly residents and the larger community.