CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (January 20, 2009) — Minister with responsibility for the wellbeing of senior citizens on Nevis Hon. Hensley Daniel, gave a group of seniors the assurance that the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) would continue to implement policies and programmes in their interest.
Mr. Daniel made the disclosure on Tuesday, as he officially launched the St. Thomas’ Recreational Group, the third of its kind to be launched on the island for seniors 62 and over. The event took place at the Lowlands School Room in the Parish of St. Thomas.
“When we got into Government in 2006 we did say that we wanted to make sure that we took care of everybody from the cradle to the grave or from the womb to the tomb…
“There is a group of people who we felt indebted to and that group of people is the seniors. They had been here laying the groundwork for the society we now have and as such we felt the urge to make sure that we develop a range of programmes for seniors,” he said.
Mr. Daniel who is the Minister responsible for Social Development, also pointed to the expansion of the Home Care Programme and the commencement of recreational programmes achieved in the 3 ½ years that the sitting NIA had taken office.
He said so far the NIA has accommodated five programmes for seniors through the Ministry of Social Development. They included Recreational Groups for the Parishes of St. Johns and St. James. In addition there is the Gingerland Programme coming out of the Health Centres and a Charlestown Programme run by the Red Cross.
He explained that the message those programmes carried was simple and showed that the contribution of the island’s seniors would not go unrecognised. In addition he said it provided them a healthy opportunity to leave their homes at least once a week to fraternise with others in their age range.
“Your contribution in the areas of health, education, agriculture, housing, tourism whatever it is has been remarkable and we think that we owe it to you to show that appreciation.
“Last year [we] started a programme of renaming important landmarks after many of our people. That too tells us that we are saying thank you for your contribution and we recognise that the way we treat our elderly people says a lot about us. It says a lot about our humanity, it says a lot about how much we care, it says a lot about how much we are concerned about people,” he said.
The Minister also noted that the celebration of milestones, birthdays and anniversaries would continue.
He said with the establishment of a programme for seniors which served every area on the island, the NIA now had a firm base to do more for the seniors.
Meantime, Senior Citizens Coordinator Mrs Sandra Gardner gave an insight into the senior’s programme.
“The Seniors Recreational Programme comes from the Social Services Department in the Ministry of Social Development. The Programme caters for senior citizens aged 62 and above.
“It offers educational and recreational activities and promotes growth and socialisation; and fosters feelings of achievements, companionship and well being that would enhance the quality of life for people,” she said.
According to Mrs. Gardner, the Programme provided the opportunity for the island’s seniors to participate in social, educational, competitive, recreational and athletic events.
“The programme creates an awareness of the ability and capability of people above age 62. It helps to maintain and improve health and wellness and promotes an interest in life, sports, recreation and physical activities. We provide numerous activities and special events, lectures, health information and much more,” she said.
Under the programme, the seniors are involved in arts and craft, playing games, singing, dancing, storytelling and presentations and are also given the opportunity to discuss relevant issues and concerns.
She said though 2009 was a financially trying year, the Department had given priority to maintaining the senior’s programmes.
“Our goal is to provide a sense of belonging knowing that there is life after retirement,” she said.