On the first day, the students were sent off to different places across the island, such as Bukit Merah Central, Khoo Teck Phuat hospital, and Northpoint Shopping Centre. At these locations, students were not asked to look for elderly for their research, because they WERE the elderly. Students were asked to become the visually and mobility challenged and be in the shoes of them for an hour, exploring the area and finding out whether the place is “elderly - friendly”, and if not, how to make it that way. For example, students at Northpoint were “visually impaired” and the students from their own classes set out in groups of 4, one wearing spectacles with frosted glass lenses to simulate what one would see if they were visually impaired. One would be an interviewer, one would then be the “caretaker” to take care of the “elderly” and watch where he is going and not let him trip and injure himself. So, the last one would be a note - taker to note down the problems with structures or design of the place that may not be feasible for elderly to go around.
The next day, all students remained in school to attend courses for service learning and leadership. This was to infuse students with qualities of a leader who can serve the community well. This course spanned over the next 2 days and it was very meaningful for the students. On the first day of the course, they had to understand the fact that leaders have 4 qualities, resilience, integrity, compassion, and lastly excellence. Afterward, they played an icebreaker game that involved the whole group of 3 classes to move around in a circle. As they moved, objects were passed around. The objects were random, and could be as small as a marker pen, to something as large as a chair. The objects were passed from front to back, and if the object was passed to one from the left, one would have to pass the object to their right, and vice versa. In the end, an egg which had been passed out was found broken and some students had placed several items in a box, and the items, which included the box, was to be passed separately. This was to teach students that if the object were the people around them, the people would probably have suffered like a cracked egg. So the students learned that compassion is an important quality in leaders.
For the third day, the courses continued and this time the students tackled a tricky but meaningful activity, the escape off “Paradise” Island. It was a task where 4 students were asked to be the “physically - challenged” by having their limbs tied up. The 4 students who were the “victims” were not picked voluntarily. They were told that they were going for a vacation to “Paradise” Island. So, they were separated from their classes and taken to another location. The rest of the classes that stayed were told that their time frame was different from that of “Paradise” Island, and that 50 years have passed on “Paradise” Island even though only 1 minute has passed in the classroom. So the “visitors” are now disabled elderly on “Paradise” Island. So the classes mobilised rescue efforts with “resource tiles”, sheets of paper in different polygonal shapes to be arranged into different paths representing different routes. The “elderly” had to climb over obstacles like tables and chairs while they are tied up and the other classmates have to lay out the “tiles” for them to cross on. This teaches the students about teamwork and patience as they tried to help the “elderly” navigate over the obstacles.
Written by Zhi Chao
Edited by Ms Seah