The first runners-up of the “Salt & Light” competition at youth conference Emerge 2012 continue in their efforts to bridge communication between youth and the elderly.
By Kong Yun Rui
Few sights bring cheer to the heart faster than watching a bunch of young people grooving to tai chi moves together with a group of senior citizens. This was a first-of-its-kind feat that the volunteers of the F.E.E.T movement pulled off on July 17 this year.
Clearly excited to have their grandchildren and other youth joining them in this traditional exercise, many of the elderly extended the event invitation to their friends. Grandmothers were also spotted putting on make-up at the event to look their best. The seniors put in as vigorous an effort as their young counterparts. The youth learned an important lesson that day: that the elderly need affirmation and enjoy the company of young people.
This is what F.E.E.T sets out to do: to promote the social cause of caring for grandparents among the youth through the use of social media. The group was first formed to compete in the “Salt & Light” segment at this year’s Emerge, City Harvest Church’s youth conference. The aim of “Salt & Light” was to provide an opportunity and platform for youths to create and execute projects that provide solutions to a real social problem. Making use of this avenue provided by the church, the trio – Chloe Ng, Seah Hui and Justin Chua, fused their passion for youth and elderly together under the mentorship of CHCSA Executive Director Darryl Loh and Veronica Tang, a zone supervisor in CHC. They formed F.E.E.T. which stands for Friends Encouraging Elderly Together.
Ng, 21, said, “By utilizing the popular social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, we want to encourage youths to interact more with their grandparents. Through this, we want to see a stronger relationship fostered between the generations.”
It is obvious that the team has hit the right spot. From their humble beginnings of three members, the group has a current reach of more than 200 youths, who are called “cyber volunteers”. These volunteers interact online with one another and inspire each other to make an effort to get to know their grandparents. Questions are posted online regularly by the F.E.E.T team and volunteers would have to approach their grandparents for the answers. By having to do so, they are compelled to interact with them. The volunteers are also encouraged to take a step further like buying shoes for their grandparents when they find out their shoe sizes, or to bring them out for a meal to savor their favorite food.
Currently in the pipeline for F.E.E.T is a collaboration with cajon music school, Beat’abox and the eldercare center, House Of JOY. Slated to take place on Nov. 2, a total of 20 elderly persons and youth will embark on a total of four free lessons over four weeks to learn how to play the cajon. The team of cajon players will then visit different elderly homes and perform for them. What is F.E.E.T.’s motivation? “We want the elderly to be empowered to make a difference in the lives of the other elderly too,” replied Ng.
F.E.E.T is also looking into future partnerships with other eldercare organizations such as the Lions Befrienders and NTUC Eldercare to extend their reach to more elderly.