SINGAPORE (Dec 17): About two years ago, Christel Goh, 27, felt that her grandmother could be showing the early warning signs of dementia. Her grandfather had suffered from dementia, and she knew how tough managing the condition could be. Aware that mental stimulation can help stave off the disease, Goh hunted around for games that she could play with her grandmother. But everything she found was either too childish or Western-centric, she recalls.

Goh, who was working full-time in public relations, created her own card game instead. She designed a set of 22 cards illustrated with quintessentially local items, such as ice kacang and Axe Oil. These can be played like a game of Snap, or a memory game. Goh shared a soft copy of the cards on Facebook. At her friends’ urging, she realised this could be a product for sale. She turned this into a business idea and started a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, which raised over US$3,000 ($4,112).

The personal project has since evolved into her business called Play Hua Hee, which creates card games, colouring puzzles and activity packs for senior citizens and caregivers. Hua Hee means “happy” in Hokkien, a dialect spoken among many Chinese elderly. Goh switched to a parttime role at work, so that she could concentrate on making Play Hua Hee a “sustainable social enterprise”. In just a year, her clients have included the Agency for Integrated Care, the National University Hospital and the People’s Association.

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