SINGAPORE: President Halimah Yacob played board games with elderly residents at the Merpati CareElderly Seniors Activity Centre on Friday (Mar 22), as part of an event to promote intergenerational bonding.
The games included Hamster Rolle and Pick-A-Seal, and involved 12 of the 75 elderly Merpati Road residents at the event hosted by Care Community Services Society (CCSS).
Fifteen youth residents also took part as games facilitators.
Ms Sarah-Jane Tan, programmes director at CCSS, said she hoped the event would help to improve intergenerational bonding and draw the community closer.
“If we think about the idea of people gathering round a table to do a fun engaging activity, it’s more about community coming together and community can span across generations.
"We hope that this initiative would not only bond our seniors, but also families, people, the community,” she said.
The elderly participants, who were aged between 68 and 82, had gathered half an hour before the event in anticipation of their meeting with the president and their youth facilitators.
Most were regular visitors of the Merpati seniors activity centre.
One of them, 66-year-old Hamidah Sulaiman, said she was a regular participant in programmes by CCSS.
When asked which classes she usually took part in, Mdm Hamidah said: "Art and craft, like flower arrangement and all that."
The youth residents were aged 12 to 15, and were volunteers with CCSS's SWISH Youth programme.
Lim Chao Wei and Kelvin Tan, both 14, had decided to volunteer during their school holidays to do something meaningful with their time.
"Because it's the school holidays, we have free time and nothing to do. We are making (good) use of our time instead of staying at home," said Chao Wei.
The event on Friday was also aimed at promoting CCSS's new Community Silver Table Top initiative.
The initiative, which will be officially launched in April, aims to encourage socialising among seniors through playing board games.
This will be done by converting existing spaces within the seniors activity centre into dedicated areas for tabletop games.
Ms Tan found that playing games helped to increase interaction between elderly residents better than classes.
"Learning instruments, for example, is done collectively as a group and there may not be much interaction," she said. "But with tabletop games, there's that interaction there. Games are a good way to spark engagement and communication."
Community Silver Table Top is part of CCSS’s ongoing effort to encourage active aging. Other recreational activities offered include flower arrangement lessons, morning exercises and music therapy sessions.
Long-time volunteer and senior participant in CCSS activities, 72-year-old Chew Shee Fook said he believed that the initiative would help lonely elderly befriend each other.
"The programme is very good. It allows us to keep up with each other. Sometimes (elderly residents) don’t want to interact with each other and this will help them open up,” he said.