Inter-generational programme launched to spur interaction between children and the elderly

Mr Michael Tay, 94, laughs as he plays with a kindergarten 2 pupil from My First Skool at the launch of NTUC First Campus and NTUC Health's novel inter-generational programme.
Mr Michael Tay, 94, laughs as he plays with a kindergarten 2 pupil from My First Skool at the launch of NTUC First Campus and NTUC Health's novel inter-generational programme.ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
Madam Tan Kah Joo, 90, laughs as kindergarten 2 pupils play and sing with her.
Madam Tan Kah Joo, 90, laughs as kindergarten 2 pupils play and sing with her. ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
Madam Tan Siam Eng, 88 (left) and Mr Gan Seng Cho (right), 90, singing and playing with kindergarten 2 pupils from My First Skool.
Madam Tan Siam Eng, 88 (left) and Mr Gan Seng Cho (right), 90, singing and playing with kindergarten 2 pupils from My First Skool. ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

SINGAPORE - To promote interaction between pre-schoolers and the elderly, a structured inter-generational programme was launched by NTUC First Campus and NTUC Health, which run childcare and eldercare centres respectively.

In a statement on Monday (March 27), the two organisations said there are two objectives of the programme: "First, it is to empower the seniors by enabling them to have a stronger sense of purpose through mentoring the children during the activities. Second, it is to inculcate in pre-schoolers values of empathy and compassion, and respect for the seniors."

The programme has three tiers, including an advanced tier in which weekly activities are planned and worked into the childcare and eldercare centres' schedules, instead of being held on an ad-hoc basis.

The advanced tier was piloted last year at a childcare centre and an eldercare centre. Both are near each other, on the ground level of Block 264 Serangoon Central. All Kindergarten 1 and 2 children, together with some seniors from the eldercare centre, took part in weekly activities, such as baking cookies and playing a modified version of the game Bingo. The advanced tier of the programme will be expanded to five pairs of centres in five years' time.

The other two tiers of the programme - the intermediate and basic tiers - comprise activities held on a monthly and ad-hoc basis respectively. The three tiers cater to the different capabilities and resources of the centres. Fourteen pairs of My First Skool childcare centres and NTUC Health senior centres are involved in the inter-generational programme.

NTUC First Campus chief executive Chan Tee Seng said: "What is unique about our collaboration with NTUC Health is that we are not only bringing two generations together, but also engaging them with thoughtful programming and specially designed activities that bring about the best possible benefits for both the young and seniors."

The programme has a research component, to help organisers better understand if the activities achieve the objectives and how they can be improved.

NTUC Health chief executive Chua Song Khim added: "As we experience a rapidly ageing population, we also see an increasing prevalence of dementia in seniors. As our seniors participate in various activities within the inter-generational programme, their cognition and physical functions are strengthened.

"For many of them whose grandchildren have already grown up, this is also an opportunity for them to relive their nurturing experience as they interact with these pre-schoolers, while sharing life stories. This helps improve the seniors' emotional health and gives them a stronger sense of purpose and dignity, enabling them to age successfully."