Monday, 18 May 2015

SG50 Seniors package: 400 free courses this year for those aged 50 and above

From dance to IT - 400 free courses for seniors
Those aged 50 and above can join courses offered free till year end to celebrate SG50
By Yeo Sam Jo, The Sunday Times, 17 May 2015

Seniors itching to go back to school will get their chance this year, with more than 400 educational courses being offered for free as part of Singapore's jubilee celebrations.

From now until the end of the year, those aged 50 and above will be able to sign up for subjects ranging from literature and dance to business and culinary skills under this Ministry of Health initiative.

These courses - co-ordinated by the Council for Third Age (C3A), an agency promoting active ageing here - were piloted early last year.

Some classes will be run by various educational institutions and voluntary welfare organisations, where students young and old will learn together.

Others will be conducted by seniors for seniors.

Announcing the free courses yesterday, Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor said they were partly inspired by focus group discussions held by the Ministerial Committee on Ageing last year.

Active seniors had proposed providing more opportunities for older Singaporeans to learn "not just for employment, but for learning's sake".

"As individuals, 50 years old can be the start of a period of second growth too, where we learn new things, pursue new careers and experience new things," said Dr Khor.

She was speaking at the seventh annual 50plus Expo at Suntec Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The three-day event, which ends today and is organised by C3A and Pico Art International, aims to spur active ageing through activities such as forum talks and workshops.

Yesterday, more than 20,000 enthusiastic seniors showed up to learn how to make crepes and sushi, dabble in calligraphy and batik painting, and strum ukuleles for the first time.

Among them was retiree Kasummah Salleh, 65, who even bought a ukulele at the event after a crash course on the stringed instrument.

"I've always wanted to learn how to play this. I'm interested in all kinds of music," said the former teacher, who also plays in a gamelan ensemble.

Retired teacher Pushpa Sundram, 66, and her 68-year-old husband Yoganathan Ratnasabapathy supported the offering of free courses.

"We are always looking for things to do," said Madam Pushpa. "I want to take IT and cooking classes."

Mr Yoganathan, a retired engineer, added: "It's good that it's free. More people will take part that way."

About 2,500 seniors have signed up for the free courses so far. More popular topics include IT, business, and arts and culture.

To sign up, visit the C3A website at learning, or call 1800-232-7450.

As part of our SG50 celebrations, seniors will be able to sign up for learning courses for free under the SG50 Seniors...
Posted by Ministry of Health on Friday, May 15, 2015

Changing Perceptions
By Yeo Sam Jo, The Sunday Times, 17 May 2015

Part-time lecturer Pearl Tang may be 54 this year, but that did not deter her from signing up for six courses.

The mother of an 11-year-old girl is currently enrolled in classes on Chinese ink painting and clay making.

She has also registered for three IT-related courses starting next month.

Some of these classes, run by the Council for Third Age (C3A), will be offered for free this year to those aged 50 and above, as part of Singapore's jubilee celebrations.

"It's a good way to keep alert," said Madam Tang, whose hobbies include bead and jewellery making, knitting and crochet.

"For example, when you look at a tree, it's just a tree. But when you have to paint it, you have to observe the finer details. It keeps the mind active."

C3A chief executive Soh Swee Ping, 46, said the experiential component of such classes is vital in changing negative perceptions about ageing among seniors.

"The moment they experience it, they will find that hey, I can do this, I actually enjoy doing this," said Ms Soh.

"If you look around us nowadays, seniors are really active, they are contributing to society, they are doing marathons. Society should also shift to a more positive mindset towards seniors."

50 cent hotel buffet lunches, $50 worth of transport vouchers - Some 700,000 seniors aged 50 and older are getting a newly-announced SG50 Seniors package.
Posted by The Straits Times on Friday, May 22, 2015

* SG50 a learning experience for thousands of residents
Strong demand for free courses organised by government bodies for the Golden Jubilee
By Olivia Ho, The Sunday Times, 9 Aug 2015

When housewife Chew Nyee King, 66, was first confronted with a nude model, she did not quite know where to look.

But she quickly overcame her shock, as her figure drawing teacher put her and her fellow elderly classmates through their paces. "We were under tremendous pressure to finish this and that outline," she said. "We had no time to think of anything."

Madam Chew has spent the past three months taking free classes in figure drawing and Chinese ink painting at Lasalle College of the Arts. She is among several thousand people who have benefited from a series of free courses organised by government bodies to mark SG50.

Madam Chew said: "The figure drawing was only eight lessons, but after that, every one of us could draw a person. The teacher was very pleased with all these grey-haired people really paying attention, managing to draw."

She also bonded with several classmates: "We came in as strangers and we left as good friends."

A Ministry of Health initiative coordinated by active ageing agency Council for Third Age (C3A), the courses will run until the end of the year and have been taken up by 9,300 seniors so far.

Meanwhile, almost 10,000 residents signed up for 2,000 free courses offered by the People's Association (PA) within the first week of their launch last month.

The courses, which will run until the end of next month, are held at all Community Clubs (CCs) and Water Venture Outlets, and range from the latest fitness trend of piloxing to belly dancing and ukelele playing.

PA Lifeskills & Lifestyle director Tan Swee Leng said: "Residents have welcomed the initiative (as an) opportunity for family and friends to spend quality time learning something together.

"It encouraged (some) to finally take the step towards achieving their lifelong learning aspirations, such as picking up a new language."

Financial consultant Jeannie Bay, 47, has already tried a free baking course at Kallang CC and started a free pilates course.

She has even roped her husband, jewellery craftsman Alvin Fok, into the pilates class. The 59-year-old wants to try incorporating pilates moves into his tai chi, which he has practised since 2001.

The couple are now on the lookout for free ballroom dancing courses at other CCs.

Ms Bay said: "If the classes were not free, I might not want to try them because I don't know if I am fit for them or if they are too intensive.

"I am very sad the courses won't be free after September. If I like pilates, though, I will continue after the free courses stop."

SG50 Seniors Package - Goodies for 700,000 seniors
SG50 Seniors Package
People’s Association: 2,000 Free Courses from 4 Jul to 30 Sep 2015

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