NTUC launches programme to encourage those in silver years to be 'better, wiser, fitter'

SINGAPORE - Shakespeare wrote of the seven ages of man; Singapore's national trade union is pushing the five stages of empowerment for men and women aged 55 and above.

On Saturday, National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) launched a programme to encourage those in their silver years to be "better, wiser, and fitter", in the words of labour chief Lim Swee Say. "We want to remind ourselves and the world that... we still have a sense of purpose, the zest for life, and the desire to keep our minds stimulated," he said at an annual U Live symposium. The U Live community under the NTUC is meant for those aged 55 and above.

The "structured empowerment" programme, Active 55+, consists of five stages and takes between three and six months to complete. Participants get a certificate upon completion.

The first stage is a workshop that teaches participants how to achieve a happy, healthy, productive and purposeful lifestyle. The remaining stages will then focus on each of these aspects. For instance, stage two, which focuses on happiness, features a full-day workshop addressing the social, psychological and biological aspects of ageing. Stage three is about health, and includes talks on chronic diseases and health screening.

Stage four, the productivity phase, features job search skills targeted at that specific age group and workshops on cybersecurity and information technology tools. The fifth and last stage, which is about leading a purposeful life, trains participants to be leaders, mentors, and advocates of ageing well.

At each level are optional modules the elderly can choose, such as cooking workshops, supermarket tours, and a three-day, two-night staycation at Downtown East.

NTUC said it developed this programme after five years of engaging its members in the targeted age group.

NTUC deputy secretary-general Heng Chee How said the trade union wants to "recognise and be grateful for the many contributions that mature workers make, and cheer them on their 55+ adventure".

This, said Mr Heng, is why NTUC is launching a photography contest on Aug 19 aimed at appreciating these senior workers.

To join the contest, users must snap a photograph of someone aged 55 and above at work and write how the worker has been an inspiration.

Photo entries are to be submitted at www.appreciateu.com.sg

Winners stand to receive up to $500 worth of vouchers. The contest ends on Sept 16.

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