SINGAPORE - Over the next three years, Temasek Polytechnic students studying gerontology will organise activities to help promote active ageing lifestyles for the elderly from the comfort of their own neighbourhood.
These activities, from mass workout sessions to hands-on handicraft workshops, will be held for residents living in the east and north-east of Singapore, such as Punggol, Sengkang, Hougang, Bedok, Tampines and Pasir Ris.
The undertaking is part of a three-year collaboration between the polytechnic and the Housing and Development Board (HDB), which signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Sunday (May 26).
Under the MOU, HDB will provide the Temasek Poly students with opportunities such as internships at HDB's Community Relations Group, where students will experience managing community events for the elderly in HDB estates, as well as funds for student-led activities catering to the elderly.
The MOU signing was witnessed by Dr Maliki Osman, Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs, and Mayor of South East District, at the inaugural Silver Fitness and Wellness Carnival at Bedok Town Square.
The event was the first project to be carried out under the MOU.
Temasek Poly students were on hand to teach the elderly basic stretching and strengthening exercises using exercise bands, and play games such as ring toss and football goal shooting with them.
In a speech at the event, Dr Maliki said: "Much has been said about our fast ageing society in Singapore. Today, we have one in eight residents in Singapore who are aged 65 years and above. In 2030, about 10 years' time, the number will be one in four.
"It is thus important to ensure that our seniors keep themselves active and healthy to reduce the pressure on our health and social support systems."
He added: "Events like today is a very good example of how we must increase our effort at reaching out and connecting to the seniors in our community."
Madam Christina Ong, 82, who lives in Tampines, enjoyed herself at the event, where she played a few rounds of mini golf and picked up some simple stretching exercise tips.
"I really liked doing these things with so many young people - it makes me feel young," she said.
All of the students behind Sunday's event are pursuing the Diploma in Social Sciences in Gerontology.
The MOU thus allows them to apply their school-taught knowledge in real-life situations, said Mr Martin Wang, a third-year student of the programme.
"Ageing is a very important topic, not just for Singaporeans, but also globally. I think it's important that young people step out and try to understand the plight of the elderly, because this will directly impact our future," the 19-year-old, who hopes to pursue a career in social work, told The Straits Times.
"As for the elderly, I hope all the events that we'll be organising will foster greater awareness among them on how to live happy, healthy lives," he said.