Staying young-at-heart

Choir singers from the Senior Citizens Association of Selangor & Federal Territory (SECITA) during their performance at MBPJ's Chinese New Year celebrations on Feb 4.

A Petaling Jaya-based senior citizens association serves as a hub to improve the lives and health of older persons.

AS THE population ages and the number of senior citizens increases, it is essential to support the elderly with facilities that can help them age in positive and active ways. One of the best ways to stay active, healthy and young at heart is to encourage seniors to engage in a lifestyle that improves vitality.

Retirees in the Klang Valley can further enhance the quality of their lives by signing up for social classes at the Senior Citizens Association, Selangor and Federal Territory (Secita), a non-government organisation based in Petaling Jaya.

Secita, established in 1984 by a group of retired professionals and civil servants, aims at looking into the needs, welfare and interests of the community. Its president Kathryn Yong Fui Yoon says the association prides itself as a one-stop community centre for people living in and around Petaling Jaya.

“Secita provides services and programmes, including social activities and community support for people from all walks of life. The association aims to promote physical, emotional and spiritual well-being, irrespective of race, colour or creed,” said Yong, 77, in an interview.

Ecotourism holiday: SECITA members enjoying the outdoors on the way to world famous Royal Belum National Park in 2009.
Eco-tourism holiday: Secita members enjoying the outdoors on the way to the Royal Belum National Park in 2009.

The association owns an impressive three-storey day care centre in SS5 in Kelana Jaya. Built in 2010, the RM3mil building comprises a large multi-purpose hall, conference rooms and studios where members can enlist in classes that suit their needs. Currently, there are over 500 members aged from 18 to 90 years old.

“The centre provides retirees with an opportunity to learn new skills, keep active and socialise with other members. Its main objective is to encourage senior citizens to stay active, healthy and happy. Programmes offered at the association have an enormous impact on people’s lives as it helps them to strengthen morale and promote a positive outlook in life,” said Yong, who has been a Secita member for over 25 years.

Secita offers dance lessons, including line dancing and social dancing; physical activities like taichi, wai tan kung and body toning aerobics; Mandarin language tutorials and IT courses. Seven retirees serve as volunteer teachers at the centre.

Taichi classes for beginners are held on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8am, and advanced taichi lessons take place on Wednesday at 9am. If choreographed dance movements tickle your fancy, check out line dancing classes on Monday and Wednesday at 10am. For those who enjoy social dance styles from ballroom and waltz to mambo, salsa and tango, join in the lessons on Friday at 10am. Dance classes for beginners are slated on Tuesday at 2pm. Choir lessons are held on Thursday afternoons.

“Members are usually very enthusiastic about these classes, resulting in lessons stretched to one and half hours,” quipped Yong. The classes are priced at RM20 and RM50.

Senior citizens (from left) Gina Wong, Tan Yew Hoon, Doreen Mok and Jenny Leow Laman Pesona Resort & Spa in Raub, Pahang at  an excursion organised by SECITA.
(From left) Gina Wong, Tan Yew Hoon, Doreen Mok and Jenny Leow at Laman Pesona Resort And Spa in Raub, Pahang, during an excursion with Secita.

To add more spice into the life of its members, Yong and her committee members also organise local and overseas tours. This year, members got a chance to travel to Guangzhou, China; Betong, Thailand; and cruise to Phuket and Krabi. As far as local trips, Yong has also organised short visits to Raub, Pahang and Chemor, Perak.

“Considering that most travellers are retirees, we try to plan trips that aren’t too far away from home. We try to conduct as many local tours as most members like to jalan-jalan, cari makan. Most importantly, these outings provide senior citizens with a chance to explore different places and have fun along the way,” said Yong.

Besides classes and tours, Secita organises events such as memory booster camps, beauty workshops, health talks and festive dinners (Chinese New Year, Hari Raya, Deepavali and Christmas). Members also host get-togethers with children from orphanages, the disabled and the elderly from old folks homes. Its choir performed at MBPJ’s Chinese New Year celebration in 2012 and at MBPJ’s Senior Citizens Day. On Dec 8, the choir will perform at the Community Care Carnival in Petaling Jaya, co-organised by the Rotary Club of Gombak, Caring Citizens of Kota Damansara and Tropicana Medical Centre.

“It’s vital to have a good social life. Through these activities, members can keep learning and have fun doing what we enjoy most. Essentially, it is all about staying healthy and alert as we age,” said Yong, who keeps fit by attending taichi and body toning classes held by the association.

SECITA members on a tram ride on the grounds of the Crystal Mosque in Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu.
Members on a tram ride at the Crystal Mosque in Kuala Terengganu.

Healthy pursuits

Former RTM Radio 5 controller Yoong Ee Fah, 70, is living proof that age is just a number when it comes to acquiring knowledge and new skills. She lives by the adage “Live life to the fullest” and believes that age should never be a hindrance to the pursuit of knowledge.

For the past three years, Yoong has been putting her skills to good use by teaching Mandarin lessons at Secita.

The mother-of-three enjoys teaching students at the association, stating there is nothing more fulfilling than giving back to the community.

“I enjoy teaching as I have been a voice trainer and language coach in RTM for over 40 years,” said Yoong, who was also a TV newscaster, radio announcer and host of the popular 1970s talent search TV show Bintang RTM, cooking series Kesuma and Dendang Rakyat, a programme on traditional music.

“After retirement, I decided to use my language skills and contribute to society. The greatest joy is seeing my students speaking the language proficiently and being able to read Mandarin,” said Yoong.

The classes (beginners and intermediate Mandarin) are conducted once a week in which Yoong guides over 20 students per class on conversational Mandarin and how to write complete sentences.

Besides teaching, Yoong has enrolled in Latin dance classes and choir lessons at Secita. She says these activities keep her mind active and enable her to make good use of her time to socialise with her peers.

“These activities keep me on my toes. It is important for retirees to keep active and make the best out of life.

“Instead of idling time away at home, senior citizens should get out of the house, make new friends, sign up to learn new skills and participate in activities that can keep them active,” said Yoong, who also attends Japanese lessons and goes for karaoke sessions.

* For more information on Secita, call 03-7806 3303 (Puan Siti Fatimah Yatin) or go to

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