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Life Journey Centre encourages understanding of the elderly through empathy

by Li Sunpin

What is it like to die? The Senior Citizen Home Safety Association has designed an interactive game called Life Journey that fast forwards you through life and ends inside a coffin.

The idea started from research showing that more than half of the 1,100 young people surveyed could not name their grandparents, and hold negative views about the elderly. For example, they think of the elderly as long-winded people in poor physical condition who need to be taken care of. Life Journey is about changing people’s minds, says Debbie Yuen, manager of the Life Journey Centre.

“We hope that our participants can realise how valuable their time is, and learn to treasure the time they have with their family and care more about the elderly.”

The game starts with participants watching a video and filling out a questionnaire about their life plan. Then, their “life journeys” begin and they have to collect credits throughout their “life”. Afterwards, they pass through a “Time Tunnel” to reach a “Graveyard”. There, participants spend a few minutes lying inside a coffin with a clock, and they have to think about what they remember of their lives. Afterwards, there’s a debriefing session where they are encouraged to reflect on the whole thing.

At the very end, participants do another survey about how they see the elderly. Yuen says that more than 80 per cent of the participants end up with a more positive attitude .

A self-described rebellious teenager, Cheung Wing-yiu, says she didn’t listen to her family in the past, but she regrets that now as the experience really did get her thinking about her life.

“As a teenager, I only think of how to enjoy life. I have never imagined that death can come so easily,” says the 16-year-old, after experiencing her “life journey”. To her, the most memorable part was lying inside a coffin, not an experience she is likely to repeat – during her life at least.

“I will start treasuring the relationship with my family and not waste time,” she says. This, of course, is the intended effect.

The game was made for students, but Life Journey will try to appeal to people of different ages in the future. The game is at Oi Man Shopping Centre in Ho Man Tin. If you are interested, you can go to their Facebook page for details.

Edited by Jayce Lai