True to their motto, “Ignite, Impart, Inspire”. Inspirar SMU seeks to bring out a spirit of community service amongst our fellow students and inspire them to take action, raise awareness and reach out to the elderly in our community. Founded in 2008, Inspirar has grown through the years, building meaningful and fruitful partnerships with welfare organisations and the seniors they care for, over the years.

Each participant starts off with a freshmen camp, where they bond though games and give back by reaching out and connecting with senior citizens. Inspirar SMU organises many visits and activities over several months, culminating in a carnival where seniors can play booth games, work out with resistance bands and enjoy performances.

What inspires batches of SMU students to lead this community service project, to care for and serve the needs of the less fortunate amongst us? We speak with Terry Tham and Heng Kuan Wee, from the Inspirar SMU 2015 team, and Sister Majorie from the Apex Day Rehabilitation Centre for Elderly (ADRC) to find out more.

2014 Finale OptSG 50 flower at SilverAce Opt

The Inspirar team brings together seniors from various organisations together for the finale event, a carnival!

We started off as Inspirar participants in 2014. We enjoyed the weekly visits and activities with the elderly. At first, some may not want to share much about their lives. Over time though, many warmed up to us and shared with us their life experiences. This is the most rewarding part of the experience— listening to and learning from their experiences.

Our seniors inspired us to step up and organise Inspirar 2015. We were amazed by their ability to conceptualise and organise a project of such a large scale. Through the activities, they created meaningful impact for both the elderly and the participants, our fellow SMU students. We wanted to challenge ourselves and develop new skills as well.

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Meeting Sister Majorie and the seniors at ADRC. From left: Kuan Wee, Sister Majorie, Terry

We’re hugely motivated by our team, the participants of Inspirar 2015. Our volunteers were both enthusiastic and displayed their initiative and leadership abilities during our activities with the elderly. During a trip to the River Safari with the seniors from ADRC , we had one volunteer for each senior. Everyone was paired up. They took special care of the elderly who were wheelchair-bound, and made sure they all had a great time.

“I was very impressed with the students at the River Safari trip. They were very attentive and cared for the seniors very well. It’s heartening and very satisfying to see.” — Sister Majorie
ADRC Zoo visit

The biggest learning point was learning to listen to our beneficiaries, our seniors. We went in with our own ideas of what the elderly wanted. For example, when thinking of what they would like as prizes and gifts at the carnival, we chose things like medical oils. But what they really wanted were simple things like packets of tissue paper. Remember to understand and really get to know your beneficiaries first!

Continuity was the vital ingredient of our project. To build rapport with the elderly, we made sure to be consistent in our efforts. Although it is a summer-long project, we wanted each visit to be enjoyable for the elderly and our participants. After speaking to the elderly regularly, we realized what they truly desired was familial warmth. We did our best to provide that through our constant companionship for each weekly visit.

“After spending time with the elderly, you’ll realise that it is not them who are learning new things from you. It’s the other way around. You’ll be learning from them, through their life experiences.” — Sister Majorie

In leading your own community service project, perseverance is key. As project leaders, we have to consistently motivate our members and tide over trials and tribulations together. Keeping the morale up and inspiring everyone is what will drive the project forward.

Ensure the ownership of each and every participant. Get everyone’s input to improve the project. After all, the success of any project lies in the collective efforts of its members!

Inspirar SMU’s aim is to share with freshmen the importance of giving back to society and how they can lead a meaningful life by reconnecting with society, specifically with senior citizens. On top of Singapore having a growing greying population, Inspirar recognises that there is a lack of sustainable volunteerism as well. The team aim to nurture this spirit of volunteerism through beneficiary visits and our finale event, a carnival, to show students how everyone can play a part and give back to society. Check them out on Facebook!

© 2018 Snapshots by SMU