Jockey Club Age-friendly City Project - Small Changes in the Community, Big Improvement in Age-friendliness – Ambassador Achievement Ceremony
12 May 2023
On May 2, 2023, Lingnan University (LU)'s "Jockey Club Age-friendly City Project" professional support team organised "Small Changes in the Community, Big Improvement in Age-friendliness – Ambassador Achievement Ceremony" at The Grand Assembly Hall at The Salisbury – YMCA of Hong Kong. Prof Joshua Mok Ka-ho, Vice President of LU, Prof Chan Chak-kwan, Director of the Asia-Pacific Institute of Ageing Studies of LU, and thirteen representatives of NGOs attended the event, celebrating the achievements of more than 130 Ambassador Facilitators.
Prof Mok and Prof Chan presented them with badges and certificates of recognition, and commended their active participation in the ten-month Age-friendly City Ambassador training programme, and their enthusiastic planning and successful execution of the Small Changes in the Community, Big Improvement in Age-friendliness community projects, a good example of promoting a "bottom-up, district-based" approach, contributing to the sustainable development of an age-friendly city.
Prof Mok stated that "Facing the challenges and opportunities of an ageing population in Hong Kong, fostering community participation and catalysing cross-organisational and cross-sectoral collaboration are key elements in achieving sustainable development of an age-friendly city.” He emphasised that “Lingnan University is determined to play a collaborative and professional support role, and is duty-bound to do so. The thirteen community action themes derived from the eight domains of the Age-friendly City framework advocated by the World Health Organization, and the involvement and active participation of the Age-friendly Ambassadors promoted communication within the community, and enhanced community cohesion and connectivity - the cornerstone for sustainable community development.”
At the event, the ambassadors shared their experiences and reflections on the scheme. “Through various social participation opportunities, ambassadors have been contributing to the development of an age-friendly environment in their residential communities,” said Ms Lee Suk Yin Vivian, an ambassador from St. James' Settlement Wanchai District Elderly Community Centre. “I, together with other ambassadors in the volunteer group, have voiced our opinions to relevant channels and government departments continuously for years. In the past, there were few recreational parks in the Wanchai district, but now the recreational facilities have more convenient age-friendly elements, such as public toilets. I understand that community advocacy always encounters setbacks, but nothing is impossible if we persists in speaking up for the community. The government departments concerned do listen, and residents can see gradual changes.” Another ambassador, Yuk Kin Kwok, called on all ambassadors and community centres to organise more home visits to the “hidden elderly citizens” after the pandemic, to show consideration and allow them to reconnect with the community and experience human contact and kindness once again.
In the panel session titled "Social Policy Starts from the Community", Ambassador Ms Kan Wai-si, Silvia discussed her group’s plans and what her community has done. In view of the long waiting list for new patients in public eye hospitals, and unsatisfactory conditions there, the group decided to advocate for primary eye care and ophthalmological services. Silvia said “A group of five ambassadors visited various eye hospitals and District Health Centres, and spoke with practising optometrists, designed questionnaires, collected data, and then submitted a recommendation to the Health Bureau with assistance from the professional team at Lingnan University. Their proposal suggested the government integrate eye care in any future development of primary health care and hoped the eye-care service can be incorporated into the regular scope of the District Health Centres as soon as possible so as to protect the ‘window of the soul’ of elderly citizens.
Mr Leung Kwok Hei Kenneth, Service Supervisor of the Salvation Army Ngau Tam Mei Community Development Project Centre, and Ms Ma Yuk Ha, Social Work Supervisor of the Caritas District Elderly Centre (Yuen Long), both said that organising the elderly to participate in community improvement projects is always effective. "The elderly are the group who most often stay in the community. They see the needs of the community, and their observations and records are usually relevant. By speaking out to government departments and stakeholders, the impact is often increased. Improving the living environment benefits not only the elderly, but all residents, who then have a greater appreciation of the fact that the elderly still contribute to society." Ms. Ma was also pleased to see the Ambassadors become more active and confident in their role advocating for the community, and excel at participating as their self-confidence increases.