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NUS Medical Students Provide Free Mass Health Screening

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By Audrey Ng

About 600 students from the National University of Singapore Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies were on hand at Ang Mo Kio hub on Aug. 28 and Aug. 29 to help out with a free public health screening.

Organized by the NUS Medical Society, the annual public health screening took place as part of this year’s National Day celebrations with the theme “Come together – Reaching Out, Reaching Up.”

Free health screening was available to all members of the public above the age of 21.

“We want to send out a message to the public that they can lead a healthy lifestyle by taking preventive measures and going for checkups early,” Tan Zeying, project director of the event said.

Participants were first given a questionnaire on their lifestyle habits to fill in to identify any potential health problems.

Following that, they were directed to booths where they would be checked for common illnesses such as hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

There were also screening booths for smokers, checking of one’s Body Mass Index, blood glucose level and blood pressure, and eye tests.

Consultation with senior medical students and doctors were also available if one wanted to consult a doctor for medical advice.

“We can only do a surface check up as we don’t have all the necessary facilities here,” a first year medical student, Jonathan Ng said. “From there on, we would recommend the people to go to a polyclinic for a follow-up session.”

“The old people look very happy and I think it’s a meaningful thing that we’re doing,” Ng said.

A 61-year-old participant, Tan Chee Joo, said he went for the screening because he was approached by students walking around Ang Mo Kio hub and decided to go since there was not much crowd.

“I was very pleased that the service was good and I waited for only 10 minutes,” Tan said in Mandarin.

Another participant, 59-year-old Cheng Choon Chwee, said that the whole process was very fast, although perhaps there could be tests to check for cancer, something which would be of more concern to the elderly.

Educational booths were also set up by partner organizations such as the Diabetic Society of Singapore and Singapore Heart Foundation.

The NUS Medical Society tied up with various partners for the event, which include organizations like the Health Promotion Board, SingHealth, National Healthcare Group and Singapore Cancer Society.

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Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 10:49 am

Posted in Event Articles, Social

Not prisoners but artists

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By Cassandra Ho

SINGAPORE – There was no da Vinci or van Gogh on the walls of the Singapore Art Museum, but the Yellow Ribbon Community Art Exhibition, ‘Vision of Hope’, has attracted many visitors since its opening on September 9.

The Yellow Ribbon Project and Singapore Art Museum have partnered up this year to present an exhibition of artworks done by inmates and ex-offenders depicting what the latter view as hope.

There are a few categories of art on display at the exhibition – fine art, recycled art and trans-art, all of which feature artwork inspired by the Yellow Ribbon song, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon on an Old Oak Tree”.

Raymond Tan, 24, was impressed by the quality of the works he saw while visiting the museum.

“I felt that the exhibition showcased a big range of artistic talent and I found it hard to believe that these were done after just a short lesson,” he said.

The potential artists went through a 35 hour-long art course before submitting their entries for the Yellow Ribbon Art Competition, and 50 chosen art pieces were showcased at the exhibition.

“Art is a medium for inmates to express their inner emotions and feelings, and many of the paintings carry significant hidden meanings which express their desire to reintegrate back to society and make good again,” Yellow Ribbon Project Secretariat, Leslie Jin, said, when asked about the motivation behind ‘Vision of Hope’.

Besides viewing the art pieces, visitors can adopt or buy them and the proceeds will go toward the charities supported by the Yellow Ribbon Project.

The sale and adoption of the art pieces brought in about S$50,000 for the Yellow Ribbon Project beneficiaries last year, and the project is hoping to raise the same amount this year.

Jin also said that the adoption and sale would help to illustrate that the inmates and ex-offenders have gone through proper training and rehabilitation and are part of the society with the capability of using their skills and talents to their fullest potential.

“This showcase is a good opportunity for the public to understand and get an insight into the thoughts of these inmates and ex-offenders, and also a chance for both the visitors and artists, to contribute to society,” a visitor who did not want to be named said.

Visitors to the exhibition can also do up their own art pieces in workshops conducted. If selected, they stand a chance to have their work displayed alongside the prisoners’ artworks.

This is the third year the Yellow Ribbon Project is organising the art exhibition.

The exhibition is expecting approximately 2,000 visitors, and will be on display until September 20.

Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 10:49 am

Short films: the two-year wait is over

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By Stephanie

The Singapore Short Film Festival, previously held once every two years, is now an annual event propelled by the rising popularity of Korean and European short films among Singaporeans.

“There is a good interest in international films. People are interested to see what else is out there, especially if you are sick of Hollywood,” Low Beng Kheng, the festival organizer, said.

The change is a welcome move for the biennial event. “It’s great that the festival is now held every year. There is a lack of short films here in Singapore. It’s a good idea,” Russel Tan, a 23-year-old film student, said.

Held at The Substation, the opening weekend of the festival had a modest turnout of about 200 people who were mostly working adults and tertiary school students.

Providing a wide array of perspectives for these attendees, the festival featured more than 120 short films from all over the globe including Sweden, France, Australia, Indonesia and Singapore.

“It’s a good, rare opportunity to enjoy a well-selected mix of quality international and local short films. I also get to see the different ways of storytelling in a short period of time,” Nicolas Escoffier, a 32-year-old graduate student from France, said. He was at the festival for the third time since it started on Sept. 13.

Agreeing, Bill Jamieson, a 52-year-old lawyer, said, “The entertainment is at a different level from your normal commercial outlets. Definitely it’s not for the mainstream commercial audience. It’s unusual to be offered access to such films.”

The exploration of various themes such as midnight cinema, black comedy, animations and dysfunctional relationships was new to a handful of first-timers, who showed up for the event not knowing what to expect.

“The short films that will be screened have won quite a number of awards. But, it’s my first time here, so we’ll see how things go,” Edwina Ong, a 23-year-old film student, said.

The curated short films, presented based on themes and countries, were useful for aspiring film makers. “I can pursue similar projects because I can easily learn from these shorts,” Nicole Midori Woodford, a 23-year-old independent film maker, said.

Besides offering a peek into rising film talents in Asia, the festival also includes the Asian Film Symposium, which aims to promote dialogue and exchange in the region.

“It’s crucial that an event like this reaches out to new people and helps them discover their interest in this field. More significantly, it has to actively engage those already in the loop by inspiring them,” Jessie Lim, 32-year-old former Arts Central marketing manager, said.

The nine-day festival, dedicated to the screening of international short films, will end on Sept. 21.

Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 10:48 am

A Vision of Hope for Ex-Offenders

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By Kristine Puala Aquino

The Yellow Ribbon Project kicked off its Community Art Exhibition 2009 entitled Vision of Hope with artworks on display at the Singapore Art Museum 8Q on Saturday.

The exhibition showcases over 200 paintings and mixed media sculptures by current and former prison inmates from Singapore.

For the first time in its three-year history, the Community Art Exhibition is also featuring artworks by community members, in response to prison art and artworks from international correctional facilities such as Stanley Prison of Hong Kong and Macao Prison of Macao Special Administrative Region, among others.

The artworks are categorized according to this year’s sub-themes, which are Art, Communication, Opportunities, Resilience and New Beginning.

Jovyn Lee, a member of the exhibition’s organizing committee and Creative Arts Manager at the Singapore Prison Service said that these themes represent concepts common to everyone regardless of their background.

“Art has a powerful message. The themes of hope and resilience in these artworks are universal and not just limited to ex-offenders. Through Vision of Hope, we want to show that all of us have talents hidden in us,” Lee said.

Through the exhibition, many inmates discovered their artistic abilities and found opportunities to further their art studies. One example is artist and ex-offender Izani Sa’at, whose showcased work allowed him to pursue courses at the La Salle College of the Arts.

As he further develops his craft, Sa’at hopes to break out of his past as a former inmate. “I wish people would appreciate my work because it’s art, not because I’m an ex-offender. I want to be appreciated as an artist and a person,” Sa’at said.

The crowd of about 50 visitors filled the gallery with praise and admiration for the artists and their work. Steven Lee, a consultant and art enthusiast, said of the artists, “I really admire the path they go through. Everybody should really start from yourself to make a change.”

An art teacher who volunteered with Yellow Ribbon’s Prison Art Program was equally in awe of her students’ progress.

“In our art lessons, the inmates are able to express themselves and seeing their finished products now makes me so proud,” she said anonymously, as she was not authorized to speak to the media.

Coupled with Vision of Hope is the Yellow Ribbon Art Adoption Program, wherein interested collectors can bid online for art pieces featured in the exhibition. The proceeds of the program will go to the Yellow Ribbon Project’s selected beneficiaries.

Vision of Hope will run from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. everyday at the Singapore Art Museum 8Q until September 20.

Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 10:48 am

Students need to change mindsets for environment

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By: Christine Chua Sui Ling

Student apathy was repeatedly emphasized as the major impediment to environmental sustainability efforts in National University of Singapore throughout the dialogue session held by the university’s environmental group last Wednesday.

This session was aimed at enhancing students’ understanding of the sustainability strategy of NUS so they can align themselves to university’s vision of becoming the regional model of environmental sustainability.

Although NUS recognizes students’ active participation as the foremost priority, students’ apathy is limiting the success of such efforts. Chen Zhirong, acting chairperson of the environmental group, said, “Our school can have the most recycling bins but none of it will matter unless all of us believe in this cause collectively.”

“Psychological distancing” was raised as the most plausible reason behind students’ indifferent attitude by Yong Kwet Yew, Vice President of NUS Campus Infrastructure. He defined the term as a coping mechanism used to deal with a problem that is regarded as too great to solve.

Rhoda Wong Wai Kuan, a participant in the dialogue session and a third-year undergraduate in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, said, “If the school makes me pay for plastic bags, sure, I’ll forgo them. But when I go home after a hot day, I’ll still turn on my air-con to low temperatures. Yes, I’ll feel a little guilty but I don’t think suffering in this horrible heat is going to help much.”

Nevertheless, the environmental group had a breakthrough of approximately 400 members signing up this year. During the dialogue session, students participated actively and made many novel suggestions in the question and answer segment.

One student recommended that NUS should make utilities fees transparent to the undergraduates and translate utility savings to reduction in school fees.

According to Lina Goh Pei Lin, acting head of Office of Environmental Sustainability in NUS, such enthusiasm cannot be generalized to fit all students. There is still a group of non-believers who have no interest in environment-related talks or causes.

Goh also raised the need to create buzz as a solution to bridge this divide between environmental converts and non-converts. Successful examples to follow would include Energy Competition in NUS and Green Carnival 2009 which allowed students to have fun and learn about the environment at the same time.

Peck Thian Guan, director of Office of Safety, Health and Environment, said, “Our goal is for NUS students to graduate with a grounded sense of integrity and an understanding of the importance of being a socially responsible citizen.”

Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 10:48 am

A Friend a Day Keeps All Troubles Away

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By: Kuik Kian Wei

“And as our lives change from whatever, we will still be friends forever.”

Youths who were hanging around outside Plaza Singapura were drawn to the stage by the mass sing-along session to the song Graduation led by Superband champion, Mi Lu Bing, and their fans.

This marked the end of the first day of Posse, an event that featured an array of performances by Mi Lu Bing, Mediacorp celebrity Joanne Peh, and other local artistes such as The Silhouette and 98.7FM beatbox champion Zul Mystroe.

The star-studded event was held on Sept. 12 outside Plaza Singapura as a celebration for friendship in conjunction with the World Mental Health Day. It was organized by Audible Hearts, an online peer support portal for youths funded by the Health Promotion Board.

On top of the performance, an exhibition was also held over the weekend. The exhibits offered reflections on the meaning of friendship and how meaningful relationships could be built and maintained.

The objective of the two-day event was to emphasize the importance of friendship in contributing to the mental wellness of youths.

Lam Pin Woon, CEO of Health Promotion Board and the Guest of Honour of the event, commended the organizers for their effort to raise awareness of mental wellness for the youths.

“It is a good initiative for youths by youths,” Lam said.

When asked about the recent trend of mental wellness of youths, Lam said that youths today are facing a large amount of the stress as society places high expectations on them. As a result, the mental health of youths is becoming an increasingly pressing issue.

Tan Yock Theng, an organizer from Audible Hearts, said that statistics from their online support forum showed other problems youths were facing, which were generally related to families, friends and other relationships.

As a tip to cope with mental issues, the various performing artistes said that effective communication is vital in keeping mental problems at bay as well as to maintain balanced relationships.

When asked about the importance of friendship in their lives, Superband champion Mi Lu Bing said that communication and honesty are the key elements that have kept their band strong over the years.

98.7FM DJ Daniel Ong, one of the hosts for the event, also stressed the importance of communication.

“Keep communicating; do not let communication break down. The moment you close up, mental problems will occur,” Ong said.

Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 10:47 am

Posted in Event Articles, Social

Opportunity for active golden-agers to play sports

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By: Chng Ming Li

Active agers had a chance to enjoy a day in the sunshine and take part in a slow paced sport at a half-day lawn bowls event.

The Singapore Lawn Bowls Association conducted an introductory course to encourage seniors to be active golden-agers and to raise awareness of the sport of Lawn Bowls on 12th September, Saturday.

About 20 seniors attended the event at Kallang Green, Stadium Boulevard, and they were exposed to the benefits of pursing sports activities and a positive attitude.

The Lawn Bowls National Team conducted short talks that emphasized the need for seniors to lead healthy, active lives and how lawn bowls offers that opportunity.

Participants were taught the history and basics of lawn bowls and were led through an hour-long hands-on session with qualified national team players.

“This bowls clinic kills two birds with one stone. It sends the message that seniors can continue to lead healthy lifestyles and it gives us the chance to showcase our sport,” Sebastian Tan, Bowls Singapore President said during his opening address at the event.

He said the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports encourages organizations to provide seniors with more opportunities to be socially active and urged participants to engage in sporting activities.

Koh Yoke Chan, a 48-year-old participant, said that Lawn Bowls was difficult because of the heat but feels that she could learn to like the game.

“The relatively light demands of bowls make it suitable for seniors,” Koh said.

Amongst the lawn bowlers present at the event was Chia Tee Chiak, a 56-year-old national player who won the silver medal at the 2007 South East Asian Games.

A senior citizen, Chia is an example of a role model who exemplifies the values of active aging.

Chia placed third in national rankings and is part of the national squad that trains twice a week. He also qualified for regional and international competitions that brought him to countries like Malaysia, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.

Chia advocates that continual participation in sports would enhance one’s well being and quality of life.

Lawn bowls is a precision sport where the goal is to roll balls, called bowls, as close to the target ball, called a jack, as possible. There are about 200 active bowlers of all ages in Singapore.

Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 10:47 am

Posted in Event Articles, Social