Learning > Inspiration

Exhibiting empathy

Hedy Khoo on 21 Jan 2018

The Straits Times


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Science Centre guide Victor Lim, 67, is on a mission to combat the stereotyping of seniors


Mr Victor Lim, 67, is a man on a mission.


The guide at the Science Centre's Dialogue With Time - Embrace Ageing exhibition is out to combat stereotypes of seniors and help people learn more about ageing.


"To hear a child say 'Now I know why grandma walks so slowly' gives me great satisfaction", he says, because such comments indicate a basic understanding of ageing and convey an empathy for seniors.


Mr Lim is one of 32 senior guides, all of whom are aged 65 and above. They take visitors through the interactive exhibits, which allow them to experience what happens to an older person when his hearing, sight or mobility deteriorates.


At one exhibit, visitors are required to walk up and down a few steps with weights fastened around their ankles. At another, they have to unlock a door while a mechanism keeps their hand shaking, to simulate hand tremors.


Mr Lim says: "Many visitors are surprised when they find it difficult to complete seemingly simple tasks."


The guides also engage visitors in a discussion on ageing by sharing their life experiences. Mr Lim talks about getting married, becoming a father and, now, a grandfather. He also shares how he keeps active by enrolling in courses to learn new skills and taking part in volunteer work.


The exhibition aims to let visitors of all ages learn about ageing and overcome age-related stereotypes. It also showcases technology that can improve an older person's quality of life.


Since the exhibition opened last November, Mr Lim has been at the gallery, which is off Jurong Town Hall Road, at least twice a week.


One of the most memorable visitors he met was a British woman in her 40s, who came with her two children aged 10 and 12.


He was struck by their enthusiasm and interest in the exhibits.


"The mother took time to explain each one to her children, telling them why they should be more patient with their grandparents and the elderly," he says.


At the end of the guided tour, she told him the exhibition was an eye-opening experience for her.


It reminded her to be more caring and considerate towards her parents and also motivated her to learn more about ageing and how to better prepare for the future.


"I was heartened by her words as they made me feel that as a senior guide, I could play a part in helping people have a positive attitude towards seniors and ageing," he says.


Dialogue With Time is Science Centre Singapore's first fully guided exhibition conducted by a team of senior guides. They were selected from 380 applicants during a recruitment drive held between May and July last year.


Mr Lim signed up as it gave him the opportunity to use the people skills he acquired over his 40 years of working life.


He spent the last nine years of his career working in Hong Kong as a customer support director for a healthcare company before returning to Singapore in January 2015.


He says: "I enjoy meeting people and being a guide allows me to do that while sharing information about ageing."


His fellow guides also inspire him to "walk the talk" by leading an active lifestyle.


"It is fun and motivating to be part of this team of seniors who are upbeat and refuse to let age stop them from doing what they love," he says.


Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.


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