Who we are...
StoryTime is a non-profit group of volunteers who want to bring young children and their families on a reading journey with the elderly. The photo above is of the founding team of volunteers who helped out from the very first StoryTime event till to date (Colin, Ara, Lydia, Clarissa and Melody).
How we got started...
Hi! I'm Lydia, the founder of the new Charity -Curious Thoughts Giving- and StoryTime which is now under the umbrella of this Charity. My husband, Shuohan, and I used to volunteer in University under NUSSU Community Service Club. Shuohan was a Lion Befriender who would visit the elderly every week. I always remembered how he lamented that there were less than 10 volunteers from the club who chose to visit the elderly. He noted that the other volunteering activities like teaching at a Children’s Home or organising Food Donation Drives were always full; however, when it came to the elderly, it was different as people were afraid to talk to the elderly. I too had this perception that the elderly were difficult to talk to hence I was one of those volunteers who steered clear from volunteering with the elderly. It was when Shuohan brought me on one of his visits that made me realise that volunteering with the elderly really wasn’t that intimidating and they were more than happy to have my company than fussing over whether I spoke perfect Mandarin.
Volunteering with the elderly has always been at the back of my mind. We wanted to show others through this project that volunteering with the elderly isn’t as intimidating as we might think it to be. By incorporating a reading element, it seems that has helped to break the ice with the elderly and make more people open to volunteering (as it does away with the notion of volunteers not knowing what to do while volunteering).
Hence, I started Storytime this year in March under the Our Singapore Fund initiative.
Why the idea of reading?
There was a research study that showed that intergenerational reading helps to improve literacy. And it showed that not only will the elderly feel less lonely, but the children will also improve in terms of their literacy and EQ through the interaction. I thought that it was a very interesting model and hence decided to try it in Singapore. But the problem in Singapore is that the elderly don’t just speak English but speak in their own Mother Tongue as well. I was not sure if it would work but I decided to try, regardless. At the first session, there were very few kids. We realise that they wanted to be involved but didn’t really know how to connect with the elderly and it turned out that reading stories is a good ice breaker. We also realised that though many of the elderly cannot understand the stories, they still love the kids and it makes the kids want to chat with them.
It's amazing how StoryTime has grown. When we first started StoryTime there were only a handful of volunteers but to date, we now have regular volunteers who are committed to read to the elderly. I set up the charity- Curious Thoughts Giving- to raise funds for StoryTime to be more sustainable (instead of relying on my personal savings). We also incorporated a new programme- CuriousTime@VWOs- as this is a programme that is near and dear to my heart. I saw how important it is to have a structured literacy programme in shelters and Children's Homes, and we decided to expand the scope of the Charity to include this objective.
We have a long way to go in achieving what we set out to do. I hope that Curious Thoughts Giving will slowly grow to achieve its objectives and never stray from the hope that it seeks to bring to its beneficiaries' lives.