Communities and Engagement

Putting both hands together: Project ElderILY


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Drawing inspiration from Sng Shao Ye, Year 2, FoE student and his project members as they engaged with both seniors and youths at Fei Yue Senior Activity Centre, Jan 2020

17 December 2020

Ideation can be a mind-boggling stage in any project, but not for Project ElderILY which was conceived at a brainstorming session. Created under the Office of Student Affairs' Seeds of Good Programme (SOGP), the team members identified the needs of two groups of people in Singapore - the elderlies and youths.

The team realised that on one hand, there are many elderly folks living alone and suffering from depression, social anxiety and dementia; on the other hand, youths need an avenue to express their creativity and use their energy. What if youth can engage themselves in community activities that can benefit the elderlies? The team then decided to put these two "hands" together. The Project hopes to bridge and promote intergenerational bonding between these two communities.

We spoke with the project team to find out more. 

Q1: How did the team implement the project?

First, we mentored student leaders from Teck Whye Secondary School by sharing the problems faced by the elderlies and empowering them in proposing and planning activities for the elderlies. This taught the students to be comfortable to take charge in the planning and execution process.

We then led the students through the activities with the elderlies at Fei Yue Senior Activity Centre (Teck Whye). We did some physical activities and learnt to make terrariums. As the students were very involved in the planning, they were very eager to interact with the elderly and carry out the activities. Their enthusiasm was genuine, and the elderlies could sense that. That’s why we were proud to say that there was quality intergenerational bonding between the elderlies and the students.

Q2: What was your experience working with the community partners?

Our team managed the relationship with both community partners really well. Before the start of the project, we made it a point to have face-to-face meetings with our beneficiaries to set down our common expectations, goals and limitations. Throughout the project, we sustained a good and communicative relationship with our two beneficiaries to ensure that they were always updated on the timelines and logistics for the execution of our project.

At the end of every project, we also held de-briefings with the students where we evaluated their performances and obtained feedback from them regarding their experiences so that we could improve our activities. This way, we fulfilled the objectives of both parties.

That being said, we felt that we could have had deeper, personal interactions with the elderly before the start of our project to gain a deeper insight to their difficulties and interests before the start of the programme.

Q3: What other challenges did you face?

Initially, we wanted to create scrapbooks with pictures for the elderlies that they could bring home so that they can keep the souvenir for remembrance. We also wanted to produce a video-documentary with the students and the elderlies on their experiences to spread awareness of the problem of social isolation that the elderlies living alone face and the very viable solution of intergenerational bonding. However, we were not able to do so due to the unexpected COVID-19 outbreak. Since this was not possible, the sustainability plan for our project was not viable.

However, we are hopeful that the student leaders from Teck Whye Secondary School, to whom we have imparted relevant communication skills and empathy, will continue to execute and lead the activities.




This article was first published on NUSync Community Engagement page.

Contributor

Office of Student Affairs