Weifoung Yuan, founder of the Richmond Wellness Club and a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal, celebrated his 100-year birthday at the club’s 26th-anniversary event on Wednesday.
Yuan is well-liked in the community for his more than 30 years of volunteering, which promotes exercise and a healthy lifestyle in Richmond.
The Richmond Wellness Club Yuan created 26 years ago provides free exercise lessons to residents every morning in Richmond Centre and has more than 500 members.
"Doing exercise is very good for your health, and you can meet with a lot of friends," said Yuan in his birthday speech.
"When you have a lot of friends, you feel happy, and being happy makes you healther,” added Yuan, who later sang on stage.
Yuan originally moved to Richmond in 1981, after having retired as a factory manager in Hong Kong. Not knowing what to do at the time, Yuan started practising tai chi in a park.
He was then invited to teach tai chi in a community centre and, in the meantime, offered free daily classes of luk tung kuen (LTK), a type of body exercise, to people on open grounds.
The class size kept growing and in 1992, Richmond Centre invited Yuan and his students to do exercise in the mall in the morning before opening time. It was then that the Richmond Wellness Club was formally launched.
Members like to get a cup of tea or coffee at the food court in the mall after the exercise and chat before heading back home.
To faciliate teaching, Yuan has handwritten a textbook on tai chi and LTK with accompanying illustrations and a motivational “Exercise Song.”
In 2012, Yuan received the Diamond Jubilee Medal from Queen Elizabeth for his long-time dedication to promoting a healthy lifestyle in the community, especially among seniors.
Over the past years, Richmond Wellness Club has also raised funds to community organizations, including more than $167,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society.