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Bursary to help seniors stay active

South West District walks the talk in engaging low-income elderly folk

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AUDREY TAN on 06 Feb 2014

Singapore Press Holdings Ltd

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ELDERLY residents from the lower-income group in the South West District who wish to dance to the pulsating rhythms of zumba music or improve their computer literacy now have another incentive to lead an active lifestyle.


Under a new $600,000 bursary launched yesterday, they will be able to take part in various grassroots-organised courses such as qigong and computer classes at little or no cost.


Vouchers will be disbursed to the residents through the yearly bursary, and are redeemable for elderly-friendly courses at grassroots organisations like community clubs.


“The bursary is to encourage seniors to engage themselves in community activities and stay connected,” Dr Amy Khor, Mayor of South West District, told reporters at the bursary’s launch held at Gek Poh Ville Community Club.


It is the first district to introduce such a bursary scheme.


Successful applicants will each receive $200 worth of vouchers every year to defray the costs of any courses they wish to take. A four-session information technology literacy course, for example, costs $20, while a zumba gold dance class costs about $90 for eight sessions.


With the bursary, beneficiaries can take part in at least one such activity every quarter. Most courses and classes are conducted once weekly.
Depending on the cost of the course, the vouchers could offset the fees completely or require minimal top-up.


Cleaner Rizal Abdullah, 66, hopes to use the vouchers to take part in computer and qigong classes. “It will help keep me active,” he said.


Co-funded by home-grown electronic component distributor Serial System, Taoist charity Zhi Zhen Tan Dao Xue Hui (Singapore) and the South West Community Development Council WeCare Fund, the bursary will benefit some 1,000 elderly residents each year for the next three years.


Those who receive the bursary in the first year can still apply for the vouchers in subsequent years.


The bursary might be expanded if it is “well-received”, added Dr Khor, who is also Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower.


Elderly residents living in Choa Chu Kang, Jurong and West Coast GRCs, as well as the single seat constituencies of Hong Kah North, Pioneer and Yuhua are eligible for the bursary.


Each beneficiary must be above 60 years old and hold a blue Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) card, among other criteria. Blue Chas cardholders are typically from households where each family member earns $1,100 or less monthly.


As part of the requirements, beneficiaries will also have to volunteer in at least three community events within a year of receiving the vouchers.


Retired forklift driver Lee Ngak Wee, 76, is looking forward to helping the less fortunate. He said: “I would like to visit old folk’s homes or orphanages to help out.”


AN EXTRA INCENTIVE


The bursary is to encourage seniors to engage themselves in community activities and stay connected.
– Dr Amy Khor, Mayor of South West District, at the bursary’s launch


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

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