The concept of active aging is epitomised by the almost 400 participants in the Recreational Activities Programme.
After two years of hard work, the art and craft pieces they created at the 15 National Assistance Board operated centres across the island were displayed this morning at the Grand Salle at Tom Adams Financial Centre.
After viewing some of the accomplishments, Deputy Chairman of the NAB, Senator Reverend David Durant, remarked that such programmes ensured older people would not be relegated to marginal and passive roles but rather their lifespan would be enriched with a sense of purpose.
Mats, decorative mirrors, clothes, shoes, cushions, hats, dolls – including one of track legend Usain Bolt, bed linens – you name it, the seniors made it and hundreds of their family members, friends and even some of them passed through to see the works of art.
Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Steven Blackett, was also pleased with what he saw.
Addressing the audience at the opening ceremony of the three-day exhibition, he said it was a showcase of the skills, creativity and talents of the older adults.
The NAB designed and started the programme 22 years ago with an appropriate set of activities for the increasing older population to serve to maintain the dignity of older people and enhance their quality of life, he said.
“Population ageing in our society is a reality. It dictates that improved policies must be pursued to create greater inclusion, participation and engagement of older persons as well the fast tracking of an effective policy of healthy and active ageing,” Blackett said.
“While we can be justly proud of our accomplishments, we cannot be complacent. Chronic Non Communicable Diseases and their attendant illnesses, debilitating diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, elder abuse, the erosion of family values, estrangement of the youth, the development of a dual society and growing materialism are all major factors that threaten to reverse the social gains we have made.
“Though seemingly daunting, it is the view of my Ministry that these challenges can be overcome. The Recreational Activities Programme is one mechanism that can be used as a creative plank in our strategy to overcome some of these challenges,” Blackett said.
The minister further said the programme was community-based; with a willing and receptive group of older people who held various strengths, skills and resources.
“What we must strive to attain is renewed focus and the vigorous pursuit of linkages of such programmes with other entities in the communities; the schools, churches, youth groups, civil associations and the health sector. It is increasingly clear that shared partnerships are the way to go in order for the demands of society to be successfully met.
“The programmes that we fund must be meaningful to the target groups they are aimed at; people must be able to see tangible results and benefits at the end of the day,” he added as he renewed the commitment of his ministry to the support and promotion of the health and well-being of older people. (KC)