Interview with Patrick Cheung-Time is an illusion, so is growing old

( by Gessy Li, Intern of Good Lab)

 

Elderly– hunched back, wrinkled face, silver hair, slow and weak – we’re on the lookout for them when we’re sitting on the MTR. We try to help them, give them seats, give them healthcare facilities, allowances, hoping to prolong their life. But for them to passively receive help is not helping them. They should be healthy in all aspects of life. This is exactly what Jade Club strives to do. Founded by Mr. Patrick Cheung, the Jade Club promotes active aging. Simply put, active ageing is to have FUN – mentally, physically, and socially.

 

Passion – the burning enthusiasm that motivates you to pursue the wildest dreams. It is not constrained by age, gender, or anything else. Knowing this, the Jade Club collaborated with the Institute of Active Aging (IAA) and initiated the “Passion Award”, to empower the elderly who are eager to chase their dreams and make a difference. Unlike traditional funding, awardees can spend the $10,000 with no rules or guidelines. “Passion award is unique because we are given the flexibility to do anything." says Winky, a member of 耆趣大本形 (which translates to “Amusing Camp"), and an awardee of the Passion Award.  The group of 8 in Amusing Camp spend their every day planning, executing and debriefing after they have played games with the elderly in care homes. They do all this in exchange for nothing but the smiles on the participants’ faces. Their passion to bring the best service to the elderly is what drives them to carry on amidst their tight schedules.

Photo credit: Jade Club – The Passion Award

You see passion when a heart attack does not stop a person from pursuing his dream. Stanley was this person. He is the bandleader of the “Amateur Latin Big Band". He had dreamt of leading the first Chinese Latin drums band to perform outside the stadium during Rio Olympics, to prove to the world that he can, and that anyone can. He was unfortunately forced to dissemble the band due to his health condition. After his recovery, he was determined to reignite the glowing amber in his heart. Along with the help of Passion Award and IAA, he has now gathered around 30 members with the 2-year goal of performing at the Asakusa Samba Carnival (Japan), and hopes to attract more young and vibrant members to join him in this exciting journey.

Fun – the feeling you get that puts a big smile on your face. The key to get people engaged in anything and everything. Stanley is a witty and mischievous comedian and he knows it. He believes that “the most important thing is to have a funny bandleader, and everything else will be fun". Having been in the entertainment industry, all he wants “is to bring fun to those around [him]." During practices, he jokes around with his members, but also points out where they can improve. On one Sunday afternoon, smiles and laughter filled the room as they spoke with one another. Stanley played a series of beats to each member, and they repeated, forming a conversation, or a one-sided one when members could not catch up.

 

Other than the excitement that comes and goes, fun can also be a long-forgotten feeling.  The Amusing Camp knows nothing but FUN. After visiting the elderly centres, participants grab their hands and tell them “I haven’t been so happy for a such a long time". What is it that distinguishes this group from others? Not only do they spend a lot of time and effort to plan suitable games for each centre, they also play with the elderly. The elderly are brought back to their long-forgotten childhood with games like “Mr. Fox" (狐狸先生幾多點), “Traffic Light” (紅綠燈) and “King of Rock Paper Scissors" (猜皇帝). It may be difficult for outsiders to feel their joy without experiencing the atmosphere there and then. But if you can see the smiles of all the members of Amusing Camp when they recall what they do, you would be closer to understanding this “fun” that only exist between them and the participants who they play games with.

 

Elderly – people aged 65 or above (in Hong Kong). They are vibrant, buzzing with ideas, passionate and fun to be with. “I never thought about growing old” said Stanley. Seniors are not weak and vulnerable – they are more experienced in life.  “I want to send a message out that I can take care of my own health, and I always try to think positive ” says “CEO” of Amusing Camp, Rebecca.  As “Leader” from Amusing Camp puts it, “I am an elderly too, but I can also provide service to others…age is not a limit, so don’t lock us up in boxes… what matters most is your mentality.” Upon hearing this, members of Amusing Camp all nodded in agreement.

 

There’s no such thing as growing old, as long as you remain young at heart.

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