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Caring student ambassadors promote well-being of elderly people in the community

Caring student ambassadors boost health and fitness in the elderly

Care in the community is one of the key values of LU’s liberal arts education. The University offers various student ambassador programmes that enrich experiential learning outside the classroom, encouraging students to reach out and serve the people around.

 

Photo: Our Living Well Ambassadors Lorraine (right) and Tom (left) host Active Fridays to inject positive energy into Forward Living, an elderly home near Lingnan's Tuen Mun campus.

 

The annual Living Well Ambassadors programme of the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) advocates a better quality of life, training Lingnan students in mental and physical health guidance, including support for special educational needs (SEN), community service, and counselling. Wellness programmes are also organised for the University and community at large, promoting the importance of health.

 

Lorraine Leung and Tom Kwong Ka-chung, final year students in Cultural Studies and Social Sciences respectively, trained as Living Well Ambassadors promoting a healthy lifestyle, and they give regular voluntary yoga and fitness classes at Forward Living, an elderly home next to Lingnan's Tuen Mun campus.

 

“I started training last year, and have taught yoga classes to the elderly for almost a year now,” says Lorraine, who was asked by Tom to assist with stretching lessons for seniors at the very beginning.

 

Lorraine has also been teaching chair yoga in the Embracing Ageing – Health Management and Promotion Programme, funded by the Wu Jieh Yee Charitable Foundation under the Institute of Policy Studies at Lingnan.

 

“While I have experience in senior yoga classes, I am new in tutoring those with dementia and impaired mobility,” says Lorraine, whose students are as old as 96. “I need to adjust the training poses, which should be simpler, and avoid too many standing poses. Instructions have to be delivered slowly and loudly.”

 

Lorraine has given yoga classes to hundreds of seniors this year. “Usually, there are around 20 in each class. When I do the yoga demonstration, I have to pay attention to everyone at the same time, and assist them at once or correct their poses if necessary to avoid injury.”

Lorraine has given yoga classes to hundreds of seniors this year. “Usually, there are around 20 in each class. When I do the yoga demonstration, I have to pay attention to everyone at the same time, and assist them at once or correct their poses if necessary to avoid injury.”

 

Tom relates some of his experiences in a previous service-learning programme on fitness for seniors, and explains “We also need to consider their feelings, as some people may not be able to complete certain poses due to impairments. What we emphasise are sports safety and amusement, with a gradual and orderly progress suited to their physical strength.”

 

His enthusiasm in reaching out to different age groups comes from his close relationship with his 90-year-old grandmother.

 

A professional rower, Tom aspires to be a sports coach specialising in children’s obstacle courses, and says “I enjoy teaming up with both the elders and kids whom I’ve been teaching.”

 

Living happily with older family members also contributes to Lorraine’s dedication in caring for the elderly. “My grandma suffers from painful joints, and now I can give her some health tips,” she says. “Teaching yoga to seniors is of mutual benefit. I feel energised too by the atmosphere when the elderly count the beat with me!”

 

Johnson, an elderly resident of Forward Living

Johnson, a medical laboratory technician before retirement.

 

“It’s good to exercise regularly to relieve joint pain. Physical exercise becomes even more important to me when I can’t stretch my arthritic arm fully,” says Johnson, an 82-year-old retired medical laboratory technician. “I thank the student volunteers at Lingnan for spending time helping us with stretching and fitness outside their studies.”

 

To spread love and joy at Christmas, 12 Lingnan Living Well Ambassadors  presented their handmade scented candles to members of Forward Living.

To spread love and joy at Christmas, 12 Lingnan Living Well Ambassadors presented their handmade scented candles to members of Forward Living.

 

To encourage Hong Kong’s sustainable development as an age-friendly city, LU signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Culture Homes and Forward Living in 2021, which aims to encourage LU faculty members and students to communicate off-campus, learn to understand society’s real needs, and solve social problems with professional knowledge and through their networks.

 

In the past year, LU has worked closely with Forward Living to arrange various offline and online intergenerational activities to advance active ageing, including gardening, the arts, music, sport, and tours of the Lingnan campus.

 

At the 2022 Christmas Party and Market, Lingnan international students from Kyrgyzstan sang folk songs and danced with the elderly, sharing their own traditions and culture.

At the 2022 Christmas Party and Market, Lingnan international students from Kyrgyzstan sang folk songs and danced with the elderly, sharing their own traditions and culture.

At the 2022 Christmas Party and Market, Lingnan international students from Kyrgyzstan sang folk songs and danced with the elderly, sharing their own traditions and culture.

 

The student ambassadors set up interactive booths with the elderly at Forward Living, telling their life stories, playing gateball, making Christmas ornaments, and exhibiting their handicrafts.

The student ambassadors set up interactive booths with the elderly telling their life stories, playing gateball, making Christmas ornaments, and exhibiting their handicrafts.