Climbing your mountain
Seniors and family members or community members climb Mount Faber raising awareness about empowerment, inclusivity and positive ageing.
In conjunction with International Day of Older Persons’ celebrations in Singapore, 201 seniors and 180 younger family members or community members buddied to climb up Mount Faber to make a statement that seniors can conquer their mountains. This is part of the ground-up movement, Go for Your Mountain (GYM), to raise awareness about empowerment, inclusivity and positive ageing.
Led by charity, Empower Ageing, and social enterprise, ProAge, the movement responds to calls for a more inclusive society, a key concern for Singaporeans as highlighted in the Ministerial Committee on Ageing Action Plan for Successful Ageing. Sam Tan, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs & Social and Family Development flagged off the GYM Challenge. Special guest, Denise Phua, Member of Parliament and Mayor of Central Singapore also lent her support to the event by participating in the GYM Challenge carnival at the Radin Mas Community Club.
GYM was birthed by social enterprise, ProAge’s director Isaiah Chng who often met seniors who felt hopeless. These feelings were entrenched by deteriorating health and distance from family members and these issues loomed large, like formidable “mountains” in their lives. Hence, Isaiah started GYM to reverse the current perception of ageing – helping seniors make a bold statement that they are able to conquer their “mountains” – physical or otherwise.
Isaiah shared: “Growing old should not be avoided, but embraced. When we believe in seniors to fulfil their dreams and live out their fullest potential, we will see the future of ageing change for the better.”
Amongst the participants were four seniors, between the ages of 66 and 92, from ECON Healthcare Group’s nursing home. These seniors once had to use walking frames or wheelchairs to get about. After undergoing three months of power training exercises to build strength and stamina, they climbed the shorter route of 600m to get to Faber Peak.
“The later years are still filled with possibilities. We came on board the GYM challenge to encourage our residents in our medicare centres and nursing homes – that it is still possible, as long as you set your mind to it. We hope that through this activity, they would have a positive shift in their mind set and in spirit, when they achieved what they thought they couldn’t. This will be a testimony for our residents to always believe in themselves because you’re never too old to want to achieve anything you set your heart to,”said ECON’s director, Ong Hui Ming.
There was also long-time ProAge volunteer, 67-year-old Lee Yen. Despite once suffering from sole and joint pains, she attempted the longer 3.2km route. Encouraged by her growth since she started building up her fitness levels, she also aspired to show the younger generation that growing old is a meaningful phase of life. “I have been young once,” Lee Yen said. “But now that I’m older, I treasure my life more because I’ve come to realise that I’ve much to live for – to support others like my family and serve the community. In my old age, I do not want to be in a state of self-pity or regard myself as useless. I should enjoy myself during old age.”
Future iterations of this inaugural event will look into equipping those with mental health issues. GYM Challenge is a multi-sectoral collaboration that partners the government, social service organisations, corporates and families to empower seniors mentally and physically to improve their health.
Talking about the intergenerational element in GYM Challenge, Isaiah said: “A key aspect of GYM is to promote intergenerational solidarity. Instead of seeing seniors left out of the picture, I believe that there is greater strength and potential when the generations gather.”