By Terry Xu

What kind of a campaign might one think of to promote active aging? For YAH! Community College, an 8-year old lifelong learning centre, this came in the form of a lively flash mob on a Sunday afternoon right outside a bustling shopping centre.

A group of around 100 seniors and youth joined hands to surprise shoppers and commuters with a flash mob at Jurong Point Shopping Centre last Sunday. They hope to dispel the negative perception of ageing through their outgoing appearance and sporting involvement in this entertaining outdoor performance.

Organised by YAH! Community College, it is one of the first agencies in Singapore to develop and provide learning opportunities for seniors. This flash mob featured seniors who are in the courses organized by the college and also students from Republic Polytechnic, who trained together for over a month.

Among the dancers is retired businessman Mr Cheong Choon Hee, who is celebrating his 76th birthday on the day, and his family members. Mr Cheong graduated from YAH! in 2009 and has been actively volunteering with its Social Action programme. He says, “I want to celebrate my birthday in a special way this year. Not only do I want my family to participate in the flash mob dance with me, I also want to show that ageing isn’t about losing yourself or slowing down.”

The YAH!’s “I LOVE SENIORS” campaign aims to challenge and change society’s perception of seniors. As Singapore grapples with a rapidly ageing population, the college feels that it is important that society does not view ageing as a process marked by loss, decline, illness and pain.

“These inaccurate and negative perceptions influence the way older people think about themselves, and stops us from recognising the way their talents benefit the community,” says Mr Samuel Ng, Principal of YAH!. “We need to expand the concept of ageing and YAH!’s “I LOVE SENIORS” campaign aims to do so by showcasing the aspirations and contributions of our older population.”

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Mdm Nie, 70, who was there to support her friends in the flash mob, said that it was good to have such activities to show that elders are capable of being active in society and to encourage them to do so. And also to allow the younger generation to think about what they will do when they themselves grow old.

Apart from the flash mob performance, students and volunteers of YAH! invited members of the public to pen personal messages to the elders in their life.  A total of more than 1,000 messages were collected at the end of the campaign and displayed on a board for the public to see.

Messages on the board show a largely positive view on taking care of their own elders at home, such as, “I will take care of my parents, will give them a holiday treat and be with them as they age”, and, “I will join the course at YAH! and enjoy the course with you”.

The messages will be exhibited at Jurong Point Shopping Centre from now till end of November 2013. For more details, please visit the campaign Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ILoveSeniors.

Full video of the performance

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