Friday, October 05, 2018

Trishaw Rides to Connect the Generations

Nursing home residents from Sree Narayana Mission Nursing Home (SNMNH) have been enjoying hour-long scenic e-trishaw rides around the Nee Soon and Sembawang neighbourhood since September 2018. Piloting the e-trishaws are trained youth volunteers who, in addition to exploring the area with them, will also get to better know these residents.

With most of their time spent indoors, the home’s residents welcome this new activity into their lives. “I always look forward to activities that take me outdoors. This programme will help me to better explore my neighbourhood and see how things are coming along. It is also a very different and interesting way to interact with volunteers,” shared Mdm Pungavanam d/o Krishnan, 77, resident at SNM for over five years.

This intergenerational initiative, the ‘Temasek Foundation Cares - Moving Generations’ is a programme by Cycling Without Age Singapore (CWA) and funded by Temasek Foundation Cares. It was launched by President Halimah Yacob in August.

Introduced to CWA by AIC, SNMNH is the first of two nursing homes to work with CWA on this initiative. On 2 September, an MOU was signed between SNMNH and CWA to kick off the partnership and Mr Edwin Tong, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Law and Ministry of Health, was present to witness the signing.  

MOU signing between CWA and SNMNH. (Seated) Ms Marieke Bink, Chief Executive Officer, Cycling Without Age Singapore and Mr S Devendran, Chief Executive Officer, Sree Narayana Mission (Singapore). Looking on are (from left) Mr Michael Shearer, Board Member, Cycling Without Age Singapore, Mr Edwin Tong, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Law and Ministry of Health and Mr Shanavas Vijayan, President, Sree Narayana Mission (Singapore)

CWA first started in 2012 in Denmark as a way for seniors to get back on their bicycles even when experiencing limited mobility. Singapore adopted the movement in 2015 and aims to connect our silver generation with youth through sharing of their personal stories and experiences of nation-building.

Mr Shanavas Vijayan, President of Sree Narayana Mission (Singapore), sees this as an excellent way to keep residents cognitively and socially active. He said, “This partnership with CWA provides our residents with a unique opportunity to break away from their daily routine. It gives them something fresh and exciting to look forward to. The conversations they will have with the volunteers during these rides will be very different from their usual interactions.”

(From left) Mr Shanavas Vijayan, Ms Marieke Bink, Mr Edwin Tong, Mr Michael Shearer, Mr S Devendra, and Mr Chandran Nair, Vice-President, Sree Narayana Mission (Singapore).

The ‘Temasek Foundation Cares – Moving Generations Programme’ aims to bridge the gap  between today’s youth and our seniors. Temasek Foundation Cares Chairman, Mr Richard Magnus said, “Through this programme, we can effectively combat social isolation that is such a key concern in seniors of Singapore today, and at the same time, engage our youth in meaningful activities that can teach them about our history. We hope to see more creative initiatives that help the seniors remain connected to their communities and combat any social isolation they face.”

Temasek Foundation Cares has committed $530,000 to support this pilot programme over a three-year period. The programme’s 10 purpose-built e-trishaws will provide approximately 11,250 rides to 2,250 seniors from eldercare centres around Singapore.

CEO of CWA Singapore, Ms Marieke Bink, is confident that “Moving Generations” can help to raise the awareness level in youths on the issues of ageing and experiences of seniors and get them to be part of the solution. She says, “This is where our organisation’s values of generosity, without age and storytelling, come into play. When the youth give even just an hour of their time to piloting the e-trishaws with seniors, this generosity is repaid by life lessons they pick up through the chats and stories they hear from seniors.”

Si Han Ding, a second-year student at Nanyang Technological University and “Moving Generations” trishaw pilot shares, “This programme has the potential to impact each senior’s life on a personal level. I realised that many of them have not had the opportunity to ride a trishaw for more than 40 years. Bringing them back on the trishaw, I hope to help them relive memories of the past and bond with them through this experience. Through each conversation, I want to let every senior know that we are deeply grateful for their labour of love in making Singapore what it is today."

The MOU signing took place at SNMNH’s annual Chathayam Observance Ceremony, which has an added significance: The home was joined by the Inter-Religious Organisation, Singapore in a special prayer for the victims of the recent Kerala floods in India. Proceeds from the day was also donated to the Singapore Red Cross.  

Partners interested in this initiative may contact AIC at quality@aic.sg

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