IMPACT 0557: CREATING CONNECTION: ALLEVIATING LONELINESS IN SENIOR CITIZENS
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.
Bhavina Sathish Kumar is a 17-year-old student at VJC. She is the vice-president of the Elderlive for Elderly Project. ElderLive for Elderly seeks to alleviate elderly loneliness in Singapore by connecting them with other like-minded seniors through interest groups and empowering them to carry out enriching and meaningful initiatives together. Bhavina intends to conduct 50 active senior webinars and help start 140 elderly self-interest groups. Today she shares more about what Elderlive is about!
What was your role within your YAC project?
I am the vice-president of the project. I manage the funding received and help with other administrative matters as well. During the initial stages of the project, I also assisted my team in interviewing the elderly to learn about their user needs.
What motivated you to join YAC?
I felt like I could be doing something useful, something that is larger than myself. Moreover, the loneliness the elderly face, exacerbated by the pandemic, perturbs me greatly. This is because the temporal feelings of loneliness I’ve experienced at times were greatly unbearable.
That is when I was able to truly empathise with the elderly who are often withdrawn from the main hustle of society. I joined YAC with the hope that I would be able to learn new skills to help the elderly and make a difference in their life, and YAC provided me with a platform to do so.
Can you share with us your experience with your YAC project?
Research for the YAC project itself was an eye-opening experience as I was forced to consider different perspectives, which I believe helped me grow as a person. I enjoyed the process of interviewing the elderly the most as I was able to get first-hand recounts of the lives they have lived, although I did feel helpless when they shared their struggles. Overall, the process of developing the project provided me with some personal growth too.
What are some challenges you faced while working on your YAC project?
There were times we felt very anxious that we would not get the necessary funding to start our project. We had an idea and we wanted to make a difference, but the thought of not having sufficient funding to implement the project was always at the back of our minds. Regardless, we did not let such pessimism dampen our drive, and we continued putting in our 101 per cent to the proposal, even when we knew there was a possibility we would not be able to materialise our idea.
Another challenge was realising that our target audience’s preferences varied among those in different social economic classes made us realise that we had to further “categorise” the elderly while implementing the project. While we knew that their preferences varied as such, we found it arduous to find people willing to be part of our project for each category, and in equal proportion, as the elderly were not always willing to engage with us.
Could you share more on how your project has a positive impact?
We feel like our project would help to engage the elderly positively, helping to reduce loneliness in the short term. In the long term, it would be useful in empowering the elderly to take ownership of their own social lives, and to initiate activities to work with others.
Were there any key takeaways or learning points from your time with YAC?
Everyone has an idea, a dream, an aspiration, but having it and doing nothing about it is insufficient. If we truly want to make a difference, we have to have the courage to take initiative and embark on the project.
Everyone can also make a difference in society. However, to make an impact on a larger scale, we have to be more strategic with our actions. Initially, our desire felt idealistic, but through YAC, it feels possible!
This article was published on May 4, 2022