Have ‘the time of your life’
The National Library Board and the Council for Third Age encourage lifelong learning in a month-long festival.
BY: Eleanor Yap
A former school principal, Jimmy Ho, 70, has been sharpening his Mandarin skills. He shared that when younger, he went to English school and there, he got very little instruction in Mandarin. So he spends time going to the Internet to learn more. “My wife, Grace, and I have even attempted to sing Mandarin songs. I go onto YouTube and we practise a bit and then we go to a karaoke lounge and sing it,” said the father of two. Being retired has also allowed him to explore other hobbies including photography. “I learn from Internet, join a few courses as well as get tips from friends,” said Jimmy.
A former bank employee, Grace, 65, also learns new things thanks to her volunteer work with the National Library Board’s (NLB) KidsREAD programme, which promotes the love of reading and cultivates good reading habits among children from low-income families. The couple started an extension to the programme for upper-class children in 2005 so they could get some help with their PSLE. Grace said, “After one year in the programme, the kids would graduate and go off. We felt it wasn’t sufficient to build a good foundation of the English language.” She uses selected newspaper articles to engage the children, as well as motivate them. By doing this, she too has benefitted, by becoming more aware of current news.
The couple were lending their support recently during the launch of “Time of Your Life – Learning Journeys for the 50plus”, an initiative jointly organised by the NLB and the Council for Third Age (C3A) to encourage lifelong learning and an active lifestyle among Singapore’s ageing population. Minister for Health and chairman of the Ministerial Committee on Ageing, Gan Kim Yong, kicked off the festivities at the National Library Building.
A month of learning
“Time of Your Life – Learning Journeys for the 50plus” offers seniors aged 50 and above a month-long festival with more than 35 talks and workshops which will be held at various public and regional libraries. A series of talks and programmes will also be conducted in the four languages on topics including dementia, diabetes, stroke, investment and caring for the elderly. Grandparents also can learn a new skill and bond with their grandchildren at workshops such as “Grandparent-Grandchild Handicraft Workshop”, “Printmaking: The Art of Block Printing, Indian Oil Lamp” and “Silver Photography and Make Jewellery From Your T-shirt”.
C3A’s chairman, Chua Foo Yong, said at the opening ceremony: “Reading is a way to keep the mind sharp and an important means of achieving lifelong learning. In islandwide public libraries, NLB caters books in large print or electronic formats, as well as offer free reading kits, computer courses and various engaging programmes to meet the reading needs of seniors.
“Seniors, myself included have been building our career and family. Now, it’s time for us to gradually free ourselves to re-discover ourselves, our interest, our philosophy in life.”
Minister Gan shared about the public consultations to seek feedback on policies and initiatives related to ageing: “Seniors tell us that they like to continue to learn new things even after they retire, because learning gives new meaning to their lives and allows them to keep pace with society’s changes. … Many seniors also provided feedback that they wish there will be more opportunities to learn, including in the heartlands, and that learning will be made more accessible, such as through the use of the Internet.”
At various public libraries from October 2014 to March 2015, members of the public can visit an exhibition, “Curious Minds, Vibrant Lives”. This six-month roving exhibition, launched at the opening ceremony, highlights the strong connection between active ageing and keeping one’s mind sharp in the golden years. It will be available at Tampines Regional, Jurong Regional, Ang Mo Kio, Bedok and Jurong West libraries and library@chinatown.
During the opening ceremony, 200 senior graduates received their certificates for C3A’s initiative “I’m Senior & I’m Loving It”, a practical Social Gerontology programme that covers the physical, psychological and social aspects of ageing. Those who attended the opening ceremony also got to catch a Taiwanese movie, “Go Grandriders”, a documentary based on the inspirational true story of a group of 17 seniors, with an average age of 81 years, who embarked on a 13-day motorcycle tour around Taiwan. The movie was intended to inspire seniors to learn, discover or pursue their dreams.
Said C3A’s CEO Soh Swee Ping: “This festival allows seniors many enrichment opportunities for them to age well and live actively. Fifty is the new 30 and it is the prime in our lives!”
** Seniors can register for free talks and workshops via NLB’s GoLibrary website or at eKiosks at the public libraries.