The "Dreams Never Get Old" Bulao Movement, Taipei City, Taiwan
"Aging should not stop you from daring to dream."
That sentiment, expressed by Doris Lin, chief executive officer of Taiwan's Hondao Senior Citizen's Welfare Foundation, is the guiding principle that provides surprising and fulfilling opportunities for Taiwanese people age 65 and older.
From motorcycle riding to a baseball league, from activities for veterans to Broadway-style stage shows, the Bulao movement engages thousands of older citizens — and teaches younger Taiwanese that dreams have no expiration date.
When a contest was announced in 2007 inviting older motorcyclists to join a motorcycle tour around Taiwan, more than 100 people applied. The average age of the 20 individuals chosen: 81.
All but three of the "Grandriders" finished the trip, traveling 730 miles in 13 days and sparking a movement that became known as Bulao. (The word translates into English as "forever young.") The motorcycle journey was chronicled in the documentary Go Grandriders, which captured the imagination of many in Taiwan and encouraged the ride's organizers to make the motorcycle outing an annual event.
The Hondao Senior Citizen's Welfare Foundation had initiated the tour and still organizes the motorcycle trips. The foundation has since expanded the concept into several new activities, among them:
- The Bulao Baseball League was created so older people could play the game, which is a beloved sport in Taiwan. The average age of the Bulao league players is 68. Younger volunteers serve as catchers or play other positions that require significant agility.
- In the Bulao Soldiers program World War II veterans visit with young service members and share their stories. The veterans wear their uniforms and take part in military formations with the young recruits.
- The annual Bulao Broadway Show gives older adults the opportunity to showcase their talents before an audience of 10,000 people at the most famous stage in Taipei City. The more than 300 performers from throughout Taiwan are selected from video auditions.
- The nine-day Yilan Forever Young Festival features a variety of programs, including fashion shows and musicals performed by people 65 and older.
The Hondao Senior Citizen's Welfare Foundation, a charitable organization that develops and delivers community care for older people, leads and helps secure funds for the "Dreams Never Get Old" Bulao programs. Donations are also solicited from the public and corporations.
Younger people report being greatly inspired by the older Taiwanese they meet. By many accounts, the Bulao movement has begun to change public perceptions and attitudes toward older people and aging.
According to a Hondao survey, 91 percent of respondents had changed their negative beliefs about aging into more positive ones after learning about the "Dreams Never Get Old" activities.
- Go Grandriders: Dreams Never Get Old
- Silver Linings Global
- How It All Started: Dreams Never Get Old Series
- Taiwan Panorama: Revitalizing Dreams: The Hondao Senior Citizen's Welfare Foundation
- Taiwan Today: Seniors Rock Audience at Yilan festival
- Taiwan Today: Dreams That Never Age
- AARP International
Published August 2015