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Lifelong Learning at U3A Contributes to Active Aging

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Lifelong Learning at U3A Contributes to Active Aging

24 Apr 2014

Co-organised by HK Electric and the Hong Kong Council of Social Service (HKCSS) since 2006, the U3A ("The University of 3rd Age) Network of Hong Kong has been encouraging local retirees to stay active through lifelong learning and volunteering, keeping in line with Government's recent population policy for the elderly.

Attending today's (24 April 2014) U3A Completion Ceremony 2013-2014, about 600 proud students from the U3A watched some of their fellow classmates perform a futuristic drama on how Hong Kong society would benefit from the spread of U3A 30 years from now.

The drama highlighted the importance of the U3A in keeping the elderly physically and psychologically healthy, while enriching their lives, expanding their social network and allowing them to continue serving the community with their knowledge and experience.

Last year alone, 46 U3A centres under 16 elderly service centres have organised more than 700 classes, providing more than 16,000 learning opportunities to the local retired population.

In recognition of their achievements, awards were presented to outstanding students, teachers and centres. Receiving the first prize of the "Outstanding Student Award" was Chow Mei-san, who loves Chinese culture and has completed 374 classes in 45 courses during the last two years. The "Most Outstanding Teacher" Wai Sau-han is a handicraft expert who also excels at aerobic exercises. The "Most Outstanding U3A Centre" award went to the Hong Kong Chinese Women's Club Dr. Ellen Li Learning Centre, which is almost completely run by U3A students. It offered the highest number of courses and received the most enrolments.

Speaking at today's ceremony, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr. Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said he appreciated the "learning for pleasure" principle of U3A that encouraged the elderly to enjoy learning without being bound by assessments or qualifications." By initiating and teaching different courses, they have successfully served and learned from each other," he said.

Managing Director of HK Electric, Mr. Wan Chi-tin, expressed his delight that U3A was benefitting the society. "The social impact assessments conducted by us prove that U3A helps retirees stay active, increasing their confidence and enhancing their organisational skills, which actually fulfill the goals of U3A," he added.

Chief Executive of the HKCSS, Mr. Chua Hoi-wai, was also impressed by the students' ability to learn and organise their own classes. "U3A's unique model of 'self-initiating', 'self-learning', 'self-teaching' and 'self-managing' has proved to be successful as the project enters its ninth year. These spirits are the best way to address the challenges ahead in our aging society," he said.

The U3A project is sponsored by the HK Electric Centenary Trust and co-ordinated by HKCSS. Elderly service agencies receive funding to run self-learning centres that provide courses conducted by the elderly for the elderly. Since its inception, more than 3,000 such courses have been arranged, providing nearly 50,000 learning opportunities for retirees. For more details on the U3A, visit www.u3a.org.hk, or contact HKCSS at 2876 2446.

Mr. Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, Secretary for Labour and Welfare, pictured with winners of the “ Outstanding Student Award”.

Mr. Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, Secretary for Labour and Welfare, pictured with winners of the "Outstanding Student Award".

Mr. Wan Chi-tin, Managing Director of HK Electric, pictured with winners of the “Outstanding Teacher Award”.

Mr. Wan Chi-tin, Managing Director of HK Electric, pictured with winners of the "Outstanding Teacher Award".

Mr. Chua Hoi-wai, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, in a group photo with representatives from the “Outstanding U3A Centres”.

Mr. Chua Hoi-wai, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, in a group photo with representatives from the "Outstanding U3A Centres".

In the futuristic drama, U3A students make use of the latest IT gadgets to learn dancing.

In the futuristic drama, U3A students make use of the latest IT gadgets to learn dancing.

U3A students keep themselves healthy by learning to play Tai Chi balls.

U3A students keep themselves healthy by learning to play Tai Chi balls.

The officiating guests trying out a traditional Chinese method to relax muscle and improve blood circulation.

The officiating guests trying out a traditional Chinese method to relax muscle and improve blood circulation.

Ms. Ho Kit-leng (far left in front row), a dancer by profession before retiring, is now a U3A teacher in Chinese folk dance.

Ms. Ho Kit-leng (far left in front row), a dancer by profession before retiring, is now a U3A teacher in Chinese folk dance.

Mr. Cheung Kin-chung, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare (Front Row R2); Professor Chan Cheung-ming, Chairman of Elderly Commission (Front Row R1); Mr. Wan Chi-tin, Managing Director of HK Electric (Front Row L2), and Mr. Chua Hoi-wai, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service pictured with U3A student Mary Mui (Front Row R3), who acts as the Secretary for Labour and Welfare in 2046 in the drama.

Mr. Cheung Kin-chung, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare (Front Row R2); Professor Chan Cheung-ming, Chairman of Elderly Commission (Front Row R1); Mr. Wan Chi-tin, Managing Director of HK Electric (Front Row L2), and Mr. Chua Hoi-wai, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service pictured with U3A student Mary Mui (Front Row R3), who acts as the Secretary for Labour and Welfare in 2046 in the drama.

Officiating guests in a group photo with U3A centre representatives after the Completion Ceremony.

Officiating guests in a group photo with U3A centre representatives after the Completion Ceremony.