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Ocean Park Survey Shows Psychological Well-being of Retirees Increases with Frequency of Volunteer Work

2018-07-31

The Park’s Golden Age Volunteer Programme Encourages Participant Self-enhancement in Multiple Areas

A survey conducted by Ocean Park found that volunteering makes a positive contribution to the mental health of retirees. The survey, covering 273 retirees aged 45 and above in Hong Kong, showed that retirees who participate in volunteer activities at least once a week have better mental health conditions than those who do not or occasionally engage in volunteer work.

Additionally, the study noted that participation in the Park’s Golden Age Volunteer Programme, in which retirees are trained to become narrators at Ocean Park attractions, triggers retirees to be more active in other volunteer endeavours. 42 retirees between 45 and 71 years old joined the Ocean Park x Sino Group Golden Age Volunteer Programme 2018 and contributed 3,153 hours of their time to promote animal and conservation messages at Ocean Park exhibits, reaching over 36,000 visitors in total from November 2017 to June 2018.
 
For this study, researchers assessed 195 respondents who have no experience in volunteer activities or a moderate frequency of volunteer activities (less than once a month) over the last 12 months (the low-frequency group) and 78 respondents who do volunteer work at least once a week (the high-frequency group) through an online questionnaire. The results showed that compared to the low-frequency group, respondents from the high-frequency group perceived themselves as playing a more useful part in things, and being more able to concentrate, make decisions and enjoy daily activities. This group is also less likely to think of themselves as worthless.
       
The survey supported the notion that volunteering creates a socially rewarding and physically active environment for retirees. 96% of retiree volunteers on the Ocean Park x Sino Group Golden Age Volunteer Programme 2018 felt that their volunteer service helped attract tourists to the Park and 89% said the programme prompted them to want to be even more active in volunteering and animal/nature conservation. Additionally, the survey results confirmed that the programme instilled notable self-enhancements among participants in the areas of animal conservation knowledge, communication skills, self-learning ability, professionalism and teamwork. 94% of participants would also recommend this volunteer narrator programme to their friends.
 
Doris Leung, a former housing manager responsible for estate management and training who signed up for Ocean Park’s volunteer narrator programme last year, said, “After I retired from my job, I devoted all my time to taking care of two family members who had serious illnesses. When they passed away, I literally did not know what to do. I lost focus and felt depressed. The Golden Age Volunteer Programme organised by Ocean Park enabled me to regain satisfaction and confidence in life. I explored nature and learnt about animals. This is something that I never got around to doing when I was swamped with work. It was so rewarding when guests told me they were surprised by the little-known animal facts that I shared with them. Even better, many guests told our team that they would take action to protect the environment after listening to our narration. Equally fulfilling was the opportunity to meet like-minded friends who inspire me to pursue life-long learning.”
 
Ocean Park’s volunteer narrator programme seeks to engage retirees in Hong Kong in a purposeful mission that will benefit future generations. The programme offers a unique platform for those with highly valued professional experiences to redirect their skills to conservation education for a more sustainable planet. 91% of Park guests surveyed rated their experience with the Golden Age Volunteer Programme as enjoyable/highly enjoyable and said their willingness to protect the environment improved a lot (89%) after their interaction with the Park’s retiree narrators.  
 
Matthias Li, Chief Executive of Ocean Park, said, “Ocean Park champions a broad range of corporate social responsibility initiatives that benefit Hong Kong people from all walks of life. We are delighted to join hands with Sino Group and Golden Age Foundation to promote volunteerism and caring for the environment. With rich knowledge and great life experiences, retirees are assets to society. Through the Ocean Park x Sino Group Golden Age Volunteer Programme, retirees can apply their valuable skills to promote biodiversity and the protection of natural habitats among locals and tourists.”
 
Sunny Yeung, Executive Director of Sino Group, was impressed with the volunteers’ dedication which is the key of success to the programme. “Conservation and volunteer participation are the focuses of the programme which align with the Group’s corporate social responsibilities – love for the environment and care for the community. What makes a real impact on conservation is the genuine appreciation of the value and willingness to pass on the knowledge of the heritage. We readily recognised the common values of the two organisations and are delighted to take part in this good cause.”
 
The Census and Statistics Department has projected that by 2064, one-third of the city’s population will be aged 65-plus.