Very special CNY treat for seniors

The students entertained 24 residents of a senior citizens' home with skits, a lion dance performance, lo hei and a karaoke session last Friday. They also handed out eight homemade hampers containing items such as rice and oil.
The students entertained 24 residents of a senior citizens' home with skits, a lion dance performance, lo hei and a karaoke session last Friday. They also handed out eight homemade hampers containing items such as rice and oil.ST PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN

Community project by school's special needs students aims to foster their spirit of sharing

Chinese New Year came early for 24 seniors when some 290 special needs students from APSN Delta Senior School (DSS) hosted them to performances and a lo-hei session and gave them handmade hampers last Friday.

The event, held at the school, is the second of four community projects that DSS students - who have mild intellectual disability - will participate in this year to foster their spirit of sharing.

A class of 16 students was chosen to host the elderly visitors, who came from a nearby senior citizens' home run by the Singapore Amalgamated Services Co-operative Organisation.

The rest of the students put on performances such as skits and a lion dance, assisted by personnel from the Republic of Singapore Air Force.

One student, 17-year-old Khor Wei Young, spent the afternoon singing karaoke with the elderly and serving them food.

He said: "It was scary to talk to the elderly at first, but afterwards I understood them better. I asked them questions about where they came from. They told me about Singapore in the late 80s and 90s."

LEARNING OPPORTUNITY

This will prepare them for when they go to work, and need to interact on an individual basis with many of their co-workers.

MR ADRON WEE, head of Character and Citizenship Education at the school, on the students' interactions with the elderly.

Typically aged 17 to 20, DSS students are currently doing vocational training to prepare them for employment.

Interacting with the elderly gives them a precious chance to practise communicating with the public, said Mr Adron Wee, head of Character and Citizenship Education at the school.

"Some of the students take longer to get what is being said to them, and cannot understand instructions which are too complicated. They face some difficulty when talking to the elderly, but that is where the teaching moment comes in," said Mr Wee.

"This will prepare them for when they go to work, and need to interact on an individual basis with many of their co-workers."

Mr Muthusamy Munigaiah, 69, who was one of the guests, said: "They served us very nice food. It was enjoyable when we sang toge- ther, and the students are very polite to us, taking care of us like we are their own grandparents."

Apart from specially made pineapple tarts, the students also gave eight handmade hampers to the elderly, consisting of items such as oil and rice from their own homes.

Contents of the hampers differed, based on contributions from each class.

"I drink Milo at home a lot, so I wanted to bring Milo," said student Tan Xi Heng, 16.

The school decided to hold four community activities for its students this year after their "enthusiastic participation" in the sole event piloted last year.

For the first project, which took place last month, the students made and distributed 50 hampers to needy elderly residents of rental flats in Choa Chu Kang.

Details of the other two activities have not been finalised, though students will distribute another 22 hampers to more elderly homes and activity centres in the area later this year.

The school started these community events last year to let its students "contribute to society as confident, dignified individuals", its spokesman said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 11, 2016, with the headline 'Very special CNY treat for seniors'. Print Edition | Subscribe