Friday, May 15, 2009

The History of SAGE

SAGE was given birth in 1977 by the committee members of the Jogging Association of Singapore (JAS) under the leadership of Mr. Chan Chee Seng the then Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Social Affairs as it was known at that time. One evening after our usual jog, Chee Seng suggested that we formed an association for our elderly to keep them healthy and happy.
The name of the organization " Singapore Action Group of Elders" was suggested and adopted since the acronym -(SAGE)- suggested a wise elderly person. Our first meeting and subsequent meetings were held at Jalan Besar Community Activities Centre which was officially opened on 1st January 1978 by the then Minister of Social Affairs, Dr Ahmad Mattar. Since then we have been celebrating SAGE's Anniversary on 1st January every year. The 2nd Centre named SAGE Cultural Centre was opened on 1st January 1979 at Block 2 Kitchener Road by Mr. Chan Chee Seng, the founder of SAGE, and the then Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Social Affairs.
The idea which contributed to the setting up of these two centres was a simple one i.e. to keep our elderly healthy and happy by exercises and songs. We conducted taiji, table tennis and a set of simple callisthenics exercises for the elderly developed by the Singapore Sports Council. SAGE's table tennis group is an acknowledged pillar in the veteran table tennis arena. Under MCDS Active Seniors Programme and with its support, a core group of retired state players and coaches now regularly play matches at selected secondary schools and selected community centres/clubs.
The songs were usually the old songs, which the elderly enjoyed when they were young. They brought back nostalgic memories of their youth, which contributed, to their emotional health. The highlight of those years were the birthday parties organized by SAGE for members whose birthdays occurred during that particular month. Our Senior Citizens Talentime Contests were hugely popular in the beginning and our members were thrilled when they saw their pictures in the newspaper. SAGE tours to China in 1991 and 1993 were the landmarks in those years when our members performed on stage with Senior Citizens of Southern and Central China. A dramatic moment occurred in the 1993 trip when one of our members started to have profuse rectal bleeding while waiting in Nanjing Airport. He had to be transported by ambulance to a hospital reserved for high government officials. My wife and I accompanied him in Nanjing while the rest of the group continued the journey to Beijing. After two days, his bleeding stopped and we joined the group in Beijing in time for our return to Singapore.
Since them, SAGE has come a long way.With a rapidly ageing population, SAGE as a VWO for the elderly, has set a 3 year Direction (2001-2003) to provide a comprehensive set of services and programmes for the elderly. It has identified public education, training for both professionals, carers and the public, providing programmes and services to plug service gaps, employment etc as priorities for the next 3 years. It moves in tandem with policy directions arising out of the report of the Inter- Ministerial Committee on Ageing Population.
An acupuncture clinic for elderly is operational since September 1999. SAGE will continue to provide quality eldercare services and provide new programmes and training modules in the years ahead. We are exerting all our efforts to put Singapore on the International Map on Ageing for we shall be hosting the International Federation on Ageing (IFA) 7th Global Conference on Ageing from 5 - 8th September 2004.