Staying connected

THANKS to Team Nila, a national volunteerism initiative under Sport Singapore (SportSG) and specifically, its Silver Champions Scheme for seniors aged 60 years and above, these four individuals are staying actively engaged with their communities. 

Keh Eng Song, 66

Keh Eng Song has a compassionate heart with a soft spot for the vulnerable segments in society. The veteran volunteer has lent his helping hands in various roles, from visiting the elderly as a Lions Befriender to providing emotional support to young suspects and serving people with special needs. He was also Chief Executive Officer of the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) for a decade before retiring in 2017.

While Eng Song does not consider himself a sporty person, he enjoys the adrenaline rush of volunteering at sports events as it keeps him energetic and socially connected. “When you’re volunteering as a group, that kind of camaraderie is amazing,” he said.

Keh Eng Song volunteers at SportSG COVID-19 call centre.
Finding his calling… Eng Song enjoys the opportunity to make new friends and learn new things as a sports volunteer.

Besides supporting sports events, the sprightly senior also volunteered at SportSG’s COVID-19 call centre last November, contacting individuals in the sports and fitness sector to ensure they kept up with their weekly tests under the national Fast and Easy Testing regime.    

Read more about Eng Song in this Straits Times article:

Service winner: Being active, making friends and gaining satisfaction are benefits he reaps from volunteering


Velappakutty Gagan, 68

While Velappakutty Gagan only moved in to his current HDB flat in Sembawang constituency less than five years ago, he is already a familiar face in his neighbourhood. That’s because he's been actively volunteering in various grassroots and community activities, such as helping out with the Canberra Plaza and Canberra MRT opening activities, and organising community celebration events. He also volunteers at Blossom Seeds, a senior care centre in the vicinity.

Velappakutty Gagan is an active volunteer in Sembawang.
Bridging communities… Gagan hopes to strengthen the social bonds between his fellow residents through his volunteer work.

Gagan’s journey with Team Nila started in 2015 when Singapore hosted the Southeast Asian Games and ASEAN Para Games. Since then, the affable senior has been actively involved in various local and international sporting events and competitions.

As a pioneer volunteer with the Singapore Wheelchair Rugby team, he also had the opportunity to travel with them to Jakarta, Indonesia in 2016 as a caregiver and "mechanic" for their equipment. He even developed enduring friendships with many players, including those from abroad, and has been keeping in touch with them through Facebook.

Read more about Gagan in this Tamil Murasu article:

சமூக நலனில் அக்கறை காட்டும் தொண்டூழியர் ககன்


Siti Aminah Ahmad, 70

Green-fingered volunteer Siti Aminah at Woodlands Active Farm.

Sowing seeds of bonding… for Siti, volunteering has led to blossoming friendships as well as bountiful harvests.

Siti Aminah Ahmad is a green-fingered volunteer with Team Nila. For the past two years, she has been tending to the garden at Woodlands Active Farm at least thrice a week, with each session lasting three hours.  

Gardening has not only kept Siti mentally and physically active, but also given her the opportunity to expand her social circle and forge new friendships, including with student volunteers. She also learnt new things, such as swimming, with guidance from a fellow farmer!

The grandmother of nine shared with pride that her team of volunteers has successfully grown lettuce, spinach, eggplant, chilli and other vegetables. She added: “What excites me more is that our vegetables can be given to those in need; we donate up to 20 kilograms each time to charity organisations and mosques.”

Besides gardening, Siti is also actively involved in the Malay Activity Executive Committee in her neighbourhood.   

Read more about Siti in this Berita Harian article:

Nenek giat berkebun turut aktif di MAEC


Eric Koh, 68

Eric Koh volunteers with Team Nila as a sports photographer.
Sharpening his focus… Eric Koh finds joy in connecting
with people through his camera lenses.

Sports photography is not easy. It requires one to have strong observation skills, quick responses and immense strength to carry heavy equipment on the go. Yet, Eric Koh relishes the challenges and accompanying thrills, action and energy. The retiree has been volunteering with Team Nila as a sports photographer since 2018.

What’s more impressive is that Eric only picked up photography as a hobby at the age of 64! The lifelong learner was so serious about it that he signed up to study photography at the then SIM University and LASALLE College of the Arts a year after his retirement.

Being part of Team Nila has not only helped Eric stay active but also expanded his network. He has forged new friendships with other retirees, younger volunteers and staff through volunteering in various sports events and competitions.

These experiences have not only honed Eric’s photography skills, but also kept him abreast of the latest digital trends, such as learning to use Zoom.

Read more about Eric in this Lianhe Zaobao article:

用镜头走入人群 退休人士乐当摄影义工

Action Plan for Successful Ageing

  • It was launched in 2015 by the Ministerial Committee on Ageing (MCA) to chart the way forward for Singaporeans to age confidently and gracefully.
  • In 2017, the MCA also launched the I Feel Young SG campaign to promote the Action Plan and encourage active ageing.
  • To respond to a greater diversity of the needs of seniors today and tomorrow, and considering the new operating environment and learnings from COVID-19, MCA is refreshing the Action Plan with the following emphases:

  • Care:
    To empower seniors to take charge of their physical and mental well-being through preventive health, active ageing programmes and care services to stay healthy and pursue their aspirations.

    To enable seniors to continue to contribute their knowledge and expertise and remain resilient, through an enhanced learning, volunteerism and employment landscape.

    To support seniors to age-in-place within an inclusive built environment, while staying connected to their loved ones and society through digital platforms and support networks that embody the “kampung spirit”.

Article published on 5/4/2022