Written by Nicole Lee
In August 2018, Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) organised a Senior Sports Day to celebrate National Day with the clients of St Luke’s Eldercare Ltd centres and Singapore Amalgamated Services Co-operative Organisation Ltd (SASCO) at the Promenade Sports Hub.
This year, they brought their festivities to Ang Mo Kio Community Centre. Senior Sports Day 2019 was held in conjunction with the grand opening of their ActiveSG gym, which boasts of elderly-friendly machines and smart measurement and tracking for progressive training.
The day kicked off with much fanfare, with guest radio DJs who pumped up the crowd, introducing the variety of activities that the senior citizens could take part in. Our SUSS alumni volunteers were stationed at the outdoor game booths. There were four booths:
- one where participants solved a simple math problem to unlock a luggage lock
- one where participants picked up marbles with a pair of chopsticks within a designated time frame
- one where participants aimed a ping pong ball by bouncing it off a table into a cup
- one where participants had to bounce an inflated ball for two meters into a basket
These might seem like everyday tasks but to the elderly, these are challenging. It was a test of coordination, dexterity, accuracy and agility. The simple capabilities that we take for granted can become much bigger tasks to surmount as we age. I was most impressed by the determination and creativity of one senior participant. She tried to bounce a ball but she could not last the full two metres. But she refused to give up and re-strategised – instead of walking and bouncing, she walked one step and bounced one step, slowly inching her way to the finish line. It was a heart-warming sight and by far the highlight for the booth. Some of the participants who came after her adopted this method too!
Alumni volunteer Ms. Bee Huay coordinated the marble booth. She shared that the original plan was to time the participants to see how many marbles they could pick up within three minutes. Most of the seniors became distressed with the countdown so she improvised, abolishing the timer and encouraging each senior citizen to pick up at least 10 marbles. It certainly worked – the queue at her booth did not stop until the end of the event!
Alumni Relations brought our exclusive SUSS bears to be gifted as tokens of encouragement, to the sporting elderly who participated in the game booths. Some of the participants had early onsets of dementia so the bear was proposed as a gift. Participants may be better able to associate and remember the fun they had today with a bear, which provides a topic for them to talk about.
Alumni volunteer Ms. Rachel Ong coordinated the ping pong ball booth. She gushed that it was touching to see so many elderly with such young hearts. One of the St Luke’s participants visited her booth and aced the game so many times that he offered to be the facilitator, casually facing off with his St Luke’s friends. Playfulness has no age!
Further enlivening the spirits of the day was a visit by PM Lee Hsien Loong, who was the guest-of-honour at the launch of ActiveSG Ang Mo Kio. He dropped by our marble booth and tried his hand at picking the marbles, which is no mean feat! Did you know that he was left-handed? The crowd watched and cheered as he finished the task.
The event ended on a high note with PM Lee posing for photos with our alumni volunteers and with the uAlumni mascots, UrSUSS and SUSSha. PM Lee brought SUSSha along with him for the rest of the day’s tour while UrSUSS returned with us to campus, missing his partner.
This is the second year Alumni Relations has supported Senior Sports Day. Senior Sports Day is an initiative from SUSS Gerontology alumni members and helmed by the dedicated alumnus Mr. Sng Hock Lin, who envisioned a day of active fun for seniors. As our Masters of Gerontology alumnus and PhD candidate in Gerontology, Hock Lin truly embodies the spirit of lifelong learning and serving the community, leading his fellow Gerontology classmates by example.
Eileen Tan (Senior Manager, Alumni Relations) expresses her heartfelt thanks to Hock Lin for spearheading such an inspiring initiative and to St Luke’s for their enthusiastic participation, two years in a row. She is heartened that SUSS Gerontology alumni has found such a meaningful way to apply what they have learnt, staying true to their passion to serve the elderly community in Singapore.
Alumni Relations looks forward to the third run of Senior Sports Day 2020!