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Closing the Age Gap

​​For soft-spoken 24-year-old Muhammed Aqil Bin Idrus and spritely 82-year-old senior, Sulaiman Bin Mohammed, the bond they share over their interest in pop culture proves that when it comes to friendship, age is but a number. Aqil shares with us his volunteer experience.

Aqil's Story




"I started volunteering back in 2016. I joined the YOLDEN programme because I wanted to bridge that widening generation gap many youths have with seniors. When I saw the Youth Corp Singapore Facebook post calling for volunteers, I grabbed that opportunity. 


MORE IN COMMON 


I am currently partnering Uncle Sulaiman, a senior at Ren Ci @ Bukit Batok St 52. We’re now into our sixth session and I’ve learnt to adapt to his capabilities, likes and dislikes. When I first started, it was a bit awkward, because Uncle Sulaiman and I had no common topic. As the weeks went by, we warmed up to each other and got closer. Uncle Sulaiman is very energetic and expressive, and often shares with me about his life. 


At the start of each session, I’d share with him the activity of the day and we’d discuss what artwork to create. Sometimes, if Uncle Sulaiman prefers to do something different, I’ll let him. The main thing is for him to express himself. I was surprised that during one session, he actually drew a Minion (from the movie Despicable Me). I didn’t even know that he’s aware of what’s popular now. 


BECOMING CLOSER 


I remember once, I forgot to tell Uncle Sulaiman that there was no session for one week, and when I came the week after, he told me he waited for me that Saturday and I didn’t show up. I felt so bad but also glad to know that he enjoys the time we spend together. 


I also feel very fortunate to learn more about Singapore’s history from Uncle Sulaiman’s experiences. During one session, Uncle Sulaiman cheekily asked me to guess what his drawing was and I had no clue! Turns out, he drew a tram car from his younger days. 


When he isn’t reminiscing about the past, he likes to keep up to date with the latest pop culture. He looks for YouTube videos to watch and listens to the radio. He is even able to sing songs by Mariah Carey!​


​SHIFTING PERCEPTION 


After spending time with Uncle Sulaiman, I realised that seniors enjoy the company of young people. Now, when I visit my grandparents, I have more common topics to talk about with them. By spending even just an hour with them a week, I feel we can brighten up the lives of our seniors."


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Uncle Sulaiman's Story




"​I’ve stayed at the Bukit Batok Ren Ci home for about three years. I used to live alone until I could no longer walk. Since I’m single, I decided to move here, where I made many new friends. I do have family members; my nieces and nephews would visit me every month. They will also come by during Hari Raya to celebrate with me, but I love to make friends with the volunteers here.


Every Saturday, I’ll participate in the arts and crafts sessions (YOLDEN Arts Programme). After trying out painting during the first session, I fell in love with it! I also enjoy other activities like drawing and colouring. Every week, Aqil will come and together, we will create something. After we are done, we will do a presentation about our creation. I like Aqil because he’s very obedient and polite, and he listens to my stories. When he doesn’t come by, I miss him!"



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YOLDEN (ARTS) PROGRAMME 

To foster intergenerational bonds, the National Arts Council, Agency for Integrated Care, and Youth Corps Singapore (a division of the National Youth Council) collaborated to form the YOLDEN (Arts) Programme. 


It caters to the physical, intellectual and social emotional wellness of the beneficiaries. Combining the words “YOuths” with “gOLDEN”, used to represent the seniors, the programme offers seniors the opportunity to express themselves and communicate through art. 


The seniors may find the activities therapeutic and see improvement in their physical and mental health with regular participation. Through the programme, youth volunteers can befriend and engage seniors through arts-based activities. 


To find out more about the YOLDEN programme, head over to www.youthcorps.sg or contact us at youth_corps_enquiries@nyc.gov.sg.



Click the image to download our issue in PDF.

Don't leave yet! There are more stories in this issue!

1. Meals to Seniors' Doorsteps​

2. Treating Seniors with Passion and Compassion​

3. ​Building Community Networks for Seniors



You can also read our other NEXTSTEP issues here.


To subscribe to NEXTSTEP, write to us at nextstep@aic.sg​ 

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Interested to learn more about ways to age actively?


​Help your loved ones to age well with a galore of activities available, through the Council for Third Age (C3A). Click here for more info or call 6478 5029.



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To foster intergenerational bonds, the National Arts Council, Agency for Integrated Care, and Youth Corps Singapore (a division of the National Youth Council) collaborated to form the YOLDEN (Arts) Programme.
To foster intergenerational bonds, the National Arts Council, Agency for Integrated Care, and Youth Corps Singapore (a division of the National Youth Council) collaborated to form the YOLDEN (Arts) Programme.
Bringing Generations Closer Through Volunteerism