Introducing BCHack19 winner: Project LinkAges
At the inaugural Behaviour Change Hackathon 2019 in Singapore, Team LinkAges, made up of Dawn, Tay Lyn, Nabilah and Ying Jie, was crowned champion, with their innovative idea winning the votes of the panel of judges. Working with partner organisation Bold At Work, the team of four seeks to change perceptions towards ageing through LinkAges, a platform which aims “to connect youths and seniors together through an online-to-offline platform that customises purposeful intergenerational interactions”.
In ageing neighbourhoods like Yuhua, the team found that youth rarely or had not interacted with seniors outside their family in the past six months. This was the case despite living in close proximity to a large senior population, with plenty of volunteer opportunities at senior centres. Moreover, the team’s collaboration with Bold At Work highlighted the potential mutual benefits of seniors and youth engaging in meaningful intergenerational interactions and viewing ageing as an asset. They realised that the lack of intergenerational bonding and understanding could lead to lost opportunities to leverage on the skills and experience of seniors, and contribute to the perpetuation of negative attitudes towards ageing.
Through the Behaviour Change Hackathon, the team identified the root causes of this existing situation. In order to better understand the problem, the team interviewed both youth who have engaged in interaction with non-familial seniors in the past six months, and those who have not. The problem was attributed to three key factors: interest, access and self-efficacy. Through the research, it was found that youths will interact more regularly and willingly if it is an activity that is interesting to them, while the lack of a regular platform for organic interaction and a knowledge deficit hinder attempts at creating meaningful bonds. Finally, it was recognised that youths who had a positive experience interacting with seniors were more confident and enthusiastic about further interaction. The team thus sought to target these factors in producing their solution, LinkAges.
The platform first allows users to identify intergenerational activities that interest them, then provides access to the infrastructure and resources needed to kick-start these interactions. For example, youths can use the online platform to access curated articles and stories on intergenerational bonding, and find out more about upcoming events tailored to their interests. Finally, the journey culminates in a series of sustained shared experiences for youths and seniors to partake in together, beginning from a simple initial interaction. This is followed by bite-sized tasks that allow participants to gain a sense of success as they proceed, motivating them to continue. This leads up to the goal of co-creation, which is the reward of completing the entire journey.
Next, the team will develop and pilot-test intergenerational activities with the community in Yuhua, with WISE continuing to mentor them. They will be pitching their proposal to the National Youth Council Young ChangeMakers Community in November.
In a rapidly ageing society like Singapore, perceptions and attitudes towards ageing define the cohesiveness of the community, while an intergenerational divide threatens to tear the social fabric apart. An effort to bridge the generations is indubitably a step in the right direction as we progress towards a society where seniors and youths of all ages are linked through a strong sense of intergenerational bonding and understanding.
✍️ Enver Loh