SBS Transit bus drivers, volunteers help seniors move to the groove with new programme

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SINGAPORE - For most of the week, 90-year-old Madam Lim Hong Eng hardly leaves her one-room rental flat in Toa Payoh. The senior who lives alone prefers to watch the television. But Thursdays are an exception.

The day is the highlight of her week as she steps out of her house to join some 30 other seniors at a void deck in her neighbourhood to make music, sing and even dance.

The weekly session features touch-free music devices that use sensor technology to translate body movements into music and sounds.

For slightly more than an hour, the elderly participants sway their arms and bodies to elicit a response from the devices which can produce a variety of sounds, including those from percussion and string instruments.

The Magic Cares Van Community Programme, which was officially launched on Thursday (Oct 10), encourages movements to produce music among people with limited mobility such as the elderly.

The project, which started in June, is a partnership between SBS Transit and I'm Soul Inc, a social enterprise that produces programmes using movement-led technology to help seniors and people with disabilities make music easily.

Each week, a van which transports the music equipment to two void decks - one in Toa Payoh and the other in Ang Mo Kio - where around 30 seniors will take part in each of the sessions. The sessions are led by three SBS Transit bus drivers and staff who volunteered to spend time with the elderly.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan (centre) at the launch of SBS Transit's Magic Cares Van Community Programme at the Toa Payoh Bus Interchange. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Said Madam Lim: "I didn't think I would still be so agile at my age. But when the music plays, it is as if my limbs remember how I used to dance and I naturally just move to the beat. I feel young again and I now have more friends in the neighbourhood."

The programme was officially launched by Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan on Thursday at Toa Payoh Bus Interchange.

Bus driver Lee Mei Ling, 59, who volunteers in the programme, said: "It's very enriching because we are able to bring joy and happiness to the elderly folks by singing and dancing with them. Their smiles and laughter warm my heart."

Mr Yeo See Peng, senior vice-president of bus support, said that the reception for the programme has been encouraging. "Every week, the staff and volunteers come together and work as one team. Now the programme has spread by word of mouth, with more and more elderly joining us. It is nice to see the elderly and public enjoy the music."

The programme may be expanded in the future to more locations.

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