Singaporeans aged 65 and above will be given free entry to all public swimming pools and gyms from April 1, as part of Sport Singapore's efforts to encourage senior citizens to stay active, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu told Parliament yesterday.
One in four Singaporeans will be 65 years old or above by 2030, and there will be 900,000 seniors, she noted.
"Sports and physical activity allow our seniors to sustain their health and mobility longer, and continue to be engaged in the community," she said, adding the age criterion will be reviewed "from time to time, in keeping with the trends and life expectancy of Singaporeans".
Seniors currently pay between 50 cents and $1.50 for entry to ActiveSG's 26 pools and 24 gyms. The new initiative is expected to benefit more than 500,000 citizens.
Retiree Nancy Gan, 69, spends $30 a year for her visits to the Hougang ActiveSG gym. She believes the free access will encourage more seniors to start exercising. She has been working out at the gym since 2004, and goes there at least four times a week.
"I have to keep myself healthy. When you're old, you must exercise. If not, it'll be worse when you fall sick," said Ms Gan, who mostly uses the treadmill and cross-trainer.
"Our Hougang gym has a lot of seniors. If there's free entry, it's better for us - we save a lot of money because at this age we're not working, and we won't be so worried."
Existing gyms are progressively being retrofitted with senior-friendly equipment and all ActiveSG gyms will also be inclusive by 2026 in a move to cater to people of all abilities and ages.
Ms Fu also announced three new Sport-in-Precinct facilities in Sengkang South, Pasir Ris East and Dover, achieving the ministry's target of initiating 20 of these projects - which provide a wider range of accessible sports facilities in residential neighbourhoods - by this year.
Another five ActiveSG facilities - Ang Mo Kio and Yishun swimming complexes, Queenstown, Yio Chu Kang and Yishun sport centres - will be rejuvenated by 2022.
These are part of the $1.5 billion Sports Facilities Master Plan to strengthen the sporting landscape and provide Singaporeans with a venue to play and exercise within a 10-minute walk of their homes by 2030.
Aside from seniors, the Government will also increase opportunities for the young to pursue sport in and out of school to develop a sporting culture.
Under the Nurture Kids programme initiated by national agency SportSG in 2017, more than 5,000 children from 125 pre-schools were last year taught fundamental movement skills such as jumping, throwing and balancing in a safe and fun way. This will be doubled to 250 pre-schools this year.
The School Sports Partnership Programme, piloted by SportSG in 2018 and introduced in five schools, was expanded to 20 primary and secondary schools last year.
Following a review, 10 sports - athletics, badminton, basketball, floorball, football, gymnastics, netball, swimming, table tennis and volleyball - have been selected and this menu of options will be used from this year as SportSG reaches out to more schools.
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.
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