When something goes on in the communities of Singapore, such as the gathering of stalls at hawker centers and the organization of wet markets, many senior citizens are unable to participate. This is due to the fact that they move around by using wheelchairs or walking sticks, which makes the task of checking out the available stalls, placed in a crowded area or around wet floors, a mission impossible. Thus, until now, Singapore’s elders that had mobility issues had no other options but to stay away from these crowded events. But this doesn’t have to be a problem in our present days anymore, as there are ways to make these events enjoyable for senior citizens as well, regardless how they manage to visit the venue.
The solution comes in the form of re-arranging the stalls of a wet market or hawker center so that they are placed within the center of the area, forming a circle or square, instead of being aligned along the edges of the venue. This way, there is more space for maneuver around them, which comes in handy when you have mobility issues. Who came up with this brilliant idea? Her name is Sandra Leong and she participated in a contest meant to trigger new ideas of how the senior citizens of Singapore could play and live within their communities. Ms. Leong was one of the three participants that occupied the winning positions of this contest, with the idea that was previously presented.
The Straits Times and Lien Foundation, which is a philanthropic organization, are the two entities that took care of the organization of this contest. Besides the great idea of Ms. Leong, the other two winning ideas were about the introduction of cruise ships that are capable of offering not just a tour of the island to the elders but also facilities dedicated for them and about making community schools open for seniors as well, so they can mingle and get in contact with the young generation. The contests reached a lot of people, as no less than 150 people decided to send their ideas for the contest, which means that many would like to do something and improve the lives of seniors in Singapore.
As Ms. Leong stated, her idea was not just about offering a wider and safer space for seniors to move around the stalls, but to also give stall representatives the opportunity to collaborate and work together, for a better economy. At 36 years old, Ms. Leong works in the social services domain and is the grandchild of two 90-year old grandfathers. She is well aware of the fact that both of her grandfathers enjoy going to the markets, but the family does not allow them to do so unless they have company, as there is the constant risk of them falling down. Thus, she found inspiration for her idea in her family. Also, according to Ms. Leong, this particular kind of markets could be built in mature areas of Singapore, where there is a considerably larger proportion of seniors in the local population. Now, Lee Poh Wah, the chief executive of Lien Foundation, hopes that the government, architects, and developers will take these ideas into account so that Singapore will be capable of catering the needs of an aging population.
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