Sota student wins award for bringing theatre to the elderly

Ms Dawn Lim helms the Happy Club, which encourages healthy ageing in the elderly through traditional theatre exercises. She received the Dr Lee Boon Yang award for exceptional scholastic achievement as well as outstanding performance in arts and lead
Ms Dawn Lim helms the Happy Club, which encourages healthy ageing in the elderly through traditional theatre exercises. She received the Dr Lee Boon Yang award for exceptional scholastic achievement as well as outstanding performance in arts and leadership at the School of the Arts' award ceremony yesterday.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Ms Dawn Lim believes in the value of theatre, and since starting a theatre troupe at her former school in Shanghai, this belief has bled into all facets of her life, including volunteering.

The 20-year-old helms the Happy Club - her own project in collaboration with Montfort Care, a non-profit social service organisation - which is dedicated to encouraging healthy ageing in the elderly by utilising the skill she knows best.

Ms Lim, a theatre student at the School of the Arts (Sota), received the Dr Lee Boon Yang award for exceptional scholastic achievement as well as outstanding performance in arts and leadership at Sota's award ceremony yesterday.

Her list of academic achievements includes the Excellence (Academic) Award, the Excellence (Arts) Award for Theatre, the Academic Award for Higher Level Biology and the Academic Award for Standard Level History.

On top of these academic feats, Ms Lim, who returned to Singapore in 2016, spends four to 10 hours a week volunteering as a Youth Corps Singapore ambassador.

"It's my main hobby," she admitted. "I don't spend much time on YouTube and all that."

She uses traditional theatre exercises as an interactive form of therapy for the elderly.

 
 

"I start by getting them comfortable with touch, such as asking them to shake hands or exchange hugs, which creates a kind of 'kampung spirit' among the group," Ms Lim said. She then brings in an object for the seniors to explore.

"Once, we brought in a washing board for them to play with. Some used it as an instrument, others started reminiscing about the days before washing machines existed. One woman with dementia just automatically started scrubbing - she was so used to the motion."

Ms Lim plans to go into social work as a possible career path.

Guest of honour at yesterday's event, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport and Culture, Community and Youth, Mr Baey Yam Keng, commended the efforts of Ms Lim and others like her.

"Such initiatives add value to a student's education beyond school, and help our young generation grow as leaders."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2019, with the headline 'Sota student wins award for bringing theatre to the elderly'. Print Edition | Subscribe