ELEVATING SENIORS: A RETIRED CARPENTER BUILDING OTHERS UP
Senior Chai felt that he had found a new place of joy and warmth when he first joined LB Active Ageing Centre (AAC) @ Tampines 499 slightly less than a year ago. “Over here, it feels like a big family,” he beamed about the AAC. He liked the atmosphere of the AAC so much that he would go there every day.
Filling the gap with his honed craft
Senior Chai often responded proactively to the things he could help out within the AAC, which he saw as his second home. Hence, it was no wonder that Senior Chai quickly noticed a need he could fill with his skills when he saw that the coach of the weekly fitness class organized by the AAC, who was standing on a low cement slab at the exercise area, couldn’t be visibly seen by the LB seniors standing near the back. He realised that people at the back had a difficult time following the teacher’s leg movements during the fitness session, which sparked him to offer a solution.
With 55 years of experience in carpentry work, Senior Chai volunteered to put his honed craft into action by building a stage for the fitness class instructor. Thanks to Senior Chai’s hard work and dedication, a handmade, customized stage measuring about 200 x 96 x 51cm was born.
Customized stage enhances the fitness class experience
The new stage not only allows all participants to clearly see the movements of the fitness coach but also encourages more seniors to join the class by providing more space for participants.
The fitness class humbly began in the centre with less than 10 people when Senior Chai first joined LB last year. Now, in less than a year, the class has steadily grown to about 75 to 85 seniors. With the new stage, the class layout was able to be changed to accommodate more participants and provide each participant with more space to exercise.
Many hands involved in making the stage a reality
As all the components of the stage are handmade, the stage had to go through many processes before it was finally completed. Senior Chua also had to rely on his resourcefulness to get his friends, whom he got to know in the carpentry industry, to create the various components, which have customized measurements. Afterwards, he helped to assemble them together. The cost of the materials for the stage was quietly shared between Senior Chai, a retiree, and another senior volunteer of the centre. “If you offer help thinking, ‘What do I gain by doing this?,’ then you cannot get anything done,” Senior Chai quipped and was simply satisfied that the stage was put to good use and benefited many seniors at the weekly fitness session.
A pillar of support at LB AAC
Besides providing a stage for the fitness class, Senior Chai has also assisted seniors with mobility issues during the centre activities. During the group activities, he specially encourages seniors with dementia to make them feel valued in the group. With the aim of engaging seniors in the area, he also helps to encourage other seniors to join the centre’s activities and teaches them games which they don’t know how to play. He noted that if a senior visits the centre and finds that not many seniors can accompany him or her, that senior might not want to come again. Hence, he resolved that if he can help the seniors within his means, he will do it. Senior Chai recounted that once a new senior visited the centre and said that he was not good at playing the games there. However, through encouragement from other seniors, he picked up new hobbies at the AAC and now proactively visits the AAC every day.
“I feel that because I myself am a senior too, I can help them better”
Senior Chai treats the AAC seniors and staff as his family, and therefore he does not calculate the help he offers to the centre. When asked about what motivates him to volunteer actively, he said, “I feel that because I am a senior too, I can help them even better.” The love of helping their fellow seniors is evident in the family as Senior Chai’s wife is also a senior volunteer at the AAC.
Participating in AAC made his heart feel younger
After joining LB, Senior Chai realised that his life became more colourful as he could spend his time more meaningfully. In addition, he got to know many new friends.
“After joining LB, even though people may see that I look like a senior, I feel young at heart,” he grinned with a sparkle in his eyes.