The future of Barbados is dependent on the teaching of past generations, according to Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs Cynthia Forde.
The Minister was delivering the feature address for the Seniors’ Recreational Activities Programme Arts and Crafts Exhibition hosted by the National Assistance Board at the Grand Salle, Central Bank when she called for social integration between the aging population and the youth on the island. She urged the elderly in attendance not to turn their back on the youth but to welcome them with open arms and educate them.
“Keep embracing the youth, you are not going to always like how they dress… you are not going to always like how they speak, you are not going to always like all the things they say and do. However, we can work with them, guide them and protect them but most of all, let us link up with them all the time because God is what we should be transferring to them, let them know there is a supreme being who is there with them all the time,” said Forde.
“You carry the Bible in your head and your everyday activity; share it with the youth and let us turn around Barbados. We don’t want Barbados to be like so many other countries in the world where there is danger because the youth are separated from the aging population.”
Minister Forde also contended that Barbadian society would be able to flourish through interactions and linkages between the elderly and the youth.
“The recognition of the rights of the elderly is essential in a world where [there is a] changing structure and nature of family [and where] traditional, societal attitudes and behaviours between generations are eroding the social cohesion and humane values of our society,” said the Minister.
The arts and crafts exhibition featured traditional craftwork such as crochet, basket weaving, embroidery, jewellery and soaps from the 18 recreation centres across the island. Minister Forde complimented the elderly participants on their beautiful displays. She noted that there were few males in attendance and encouraged the coordinators to develop programmes which would cater to the interest of elderly males so they would not resort to the rum shop for entertainment in their old age.
“Let them make some dominoes, let them make little box carts, let them make some scooters that the boys would ride… and once you get that happening, our men will not have to sit in the corner or go in the rum shop in their old age. They can come to the centers and be meaningfully engaged.”
She also proposed that the NAB create a Senior Business Trust for the elderly who sought to capitalise on their talents.