IMPACT 0541: SUPPORTING SENIORS IN FULFILLING THEIR DREAMS
Youth Action Challenge (YAC) is a platform for youth to provide solutions that tackle the issues we are concerned about. Since October 2021, over 80 teams and more than 310 youths have undertaken the YAC Season 3 journey.
Shi Min is a 26-year-old occupational therapist working full-time at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital. She is currently pursuing her part-time postgraduate studies in Gerontology at the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS). During her free time, she engages in various volunteering opportunities and passion projects related to the causes that she cares about, such as eldercare, social inclusion, and health promotion.
The Dream Artisans project marks the beginning of Shi Min’s social innovation journey as she aspires to bring her ideas to life and empower seniors to pursue their goals and dreams along with her team. Today, she shares more about the work that she does at The Dream Artisans!
What was your role within your YAC project?
My YAC project, The Dream Artisans, hopes to provide a platform for seniors who are retiring to explore and pursue their dreams and aspirations through theimmersion of meaningful and personalised experiences.
My role in The Dream Artisans is mainly to conduct market research and assist in generating ideas for our service development. That involves reading the local news, especially on policies and studies surrounding the senior population in Singapore. Outside of my formal role, I enjoy sharing stories about inspirational seniors with my team members on our chat group.
What motivated you to join YAC?
It all started with my passion for the elderly. I discovered my love for these ah gongs and ah mas during my clinical rotation in the dementia ward of my hospital, and it was a life-changing experience. From an anxious young therapist “fresh from the factory” (as what my ward doctor used to call me), I became a more mature and caring therapist at the end of the rotation. My elderly patients were my best mentors. I am thankful for all the lessons, fun and laughter they had brought to my work life.
This motivated me to give back to the elderly population, hence I took up my postgraduate studies in Gerontology in hopes of specialising as a geriatric occupational therapist to provide better patient care and improve senior’s lives. During my course of study, I chanced upon YAC’s advertisement on my university’s home page, and I was drawn to the problem statement on Successful Ageing for Seniors. Back then, I had just submitted my module’s written assignment on “age-friendly programme” proposal, and I saw YAC as an opportunity to bring my ideas to life.
I was also inspired by the acts of kindness for the vulnerable communities in Singapore by individuals, charities and social enterprises since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and aspire to create a positive impact on the causes that I care about.
Can you share with us your experience with your YAC project?
The YAC programme challenged me in many ways to step out of my comfort zone. Being an introvert, I learnt to be more open to networking and sharing of my ideas with other youths. I was also fortunate to meet my team members who came from different backgrounds, as it helped us form our own multi-disciplinary team.
The YAC programme was a good platform to socialise and hear from other youths about their projects and the causes they care about. As participants, we also got to learn knowledge and skills on innovation, such as design thinking, impact measurement and pitching skills.
The most memorable experience for me during the formation of The Dream Artisans was the user interviews, where we had the opportunity to interview seniors, including our parents and grandparents. It helped me develop stronger empathy for the seniors regarding the life challenges they face, as well as the dreams and aspirations they have had since their younger days, but didn’t get to pursue.
What are some challenges you faced while working on your YAC project?
As all my team members are working adults, it was tedious to find a common time to meet up for our weekly meetings and mentoring sessions. Fortunately, our mentors were accommodative and agreeable for Zoom meetings during lunchtime.
My biggest personal challenge during YAC was overcoming the fatigue from my hospital work, being present for my team, and staying motivated over the four-month programme. I am grateful to my team members for their kind understanding and help, and I enjoyed the mentally stimulating discussions that we had. The Dream Artisans became a passion project of mine that kicks away the feelings of burnout that us healthcare workers commonly face, especially during this pandemic season.
Could you share more on how your project has a positive impact?
The Dream Artisans hopes to improve seniors’ quality of life when they retire, and reduce ageist mindsets through the showcasing of seniors’ success stories. In the long-term, we hope to build an ecosystem of community partners from various industries to support our seniors in their dream fulfilment journey.
Were there any key takeaways or learning points from your time with YAC?
Community collaborations were greatly encouraged throughout the YAC programme. There are actually many existing services and initiatives that share similar objectives, as well as resources promoting co-creation that we can tap on.
I hope to continue applying what I have learnt from YAC outside of the programme in my own social innovation journey. It’s okay to start small with a group of like-minded people, and take baby steps towards creating a better world for all.
This article was published on Apr 30, 2022