How to get young and old residents to mingle?

How to get young and old residents to mingle?
PHOTO: The Straits Times

In some estates, a large number of elderly residents live near many young families or students, but the two groups hardly mix.

Many of these senior citizens also have health problems that are not detected in time. These observations were among several challenges raised by participants at two SGfuture dialogues yesterday. They also brainstormed ideas for projects they hope to start to plug these gaps.

Among the participants was Mr Elvin Chew, president of Singapore Junior Chefs Club, whose group came up with the idea of providing breakfast for elderly residents.

"We want to get culinary students in my club to cook and distribute meals, and tap the residents' committees (RCs) and community clubs and centres (CCs) which can identify elderly residents," Mr Chew, 30, said. "We also want to bring in polytechnic or Institute of Technical Education students who can help out in the kitchen and interact with the seniors."

Yesterday's SGfuture sessions - on building a caring community - were held at the Future of Us exhibition at Gardens by the Bay and organised by the People's Association (PA). The series aims to get Singaporeans talking about their hopes for the country and go beyond suggesting ideas to putting them into action. The week-old series will run until mid-2016. PA will also hold its own public engagement sessions in the community from next month.

One dialogue yesterday was attended by Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing, who is PA's deputy chairman and leads the SGfuture dialogue series with Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu.

Mr Chan said he was happy to see people from all walks of life and different organisations brainstorming to turn ideas into reality.

PA's role, he added, is to provide the platform for different groups of people - not necessarily within its grassroots networks - to meet and facilitate future projects.

The participants yesterday came from 35 corporate and community groups. "Many of the groups have never met the other groups before. They do not know the potential that the other groups might contribute to their projects," said Mr Chan.

"Through such mutual sharing, they have come up with new ideas."

Dr Elly Sabrina Ismail, 45, from the Muslim Healthcare Professionals Association, hopes to raise awareness of health issues among the community by working with RCs and CCs. She said yesterday's session showed the "wealth of opportunities" to tap into, whether for help with projects or to better help others.

This article was first published on Dec 6, 2015.
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