I greet you on the occasion the International Day of Older Persons and the start of the celebrations of Seniors Month 2021.
The International Day of Older Persons is celebrated annually on 1st October. This day, set aside by the United Nations, recognizes the contributions of older persons to the development of society. This year marks the 31st Anniversary of the International Day of Older Persons.
We celebrate the day this year under the theme “Digital Equity for All Ages,” which seems to be linked to last year’s theme which was “Pandemics: Do They Change How We Address Age and Ageing?”
The 2020 theme was selected as we grappled with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic which unfortunately is still with us, and is continuing to wreak havoc in St. Kitts Nevis, throughout the region and globally.
Due to the ongoing challenges and issues regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, our month of activities for this year, as was the case for last year, has been drastically curtailed as we stay in line with the protocols that must be observed.
We must always keep in mind that our seniors are one of the most vulnerable groups when dealing with the pandemic and we must treat them as such. We as a Ministry and department must ensure that we limit the exposure of our seniors to the virus, and we should not take unnecessary chances.
On Sunday October 3rd we will ask our seniors who can to worship at their own church. The staff of the Ministry and Department will seek to worship together. We are doing this to limit the large gathering of our seniors.
On Tuesday October 5th and every Tuesday during the month, the Department of Social Services will host a radio programme dubbed “Footprints.” This programme will seek to highlight the work of past employees of the department and how they have blazed the trail for the success that we are enjoying today in our seniors’ programmes. Five persons will be highlighted during the series. The Footprints programme will be aired on VON Radio at 1 p.m.
On Wednesday 6th and every Wednesday in October, there will be a special outreach to a number of our seniors who will be honoured with a “You are not forgotten award.”
The individuals to be honoured, were at one point a part of our seniors’ recreational groups but due to illness or otherwise are no longer able to participate in our groups. These individuals will receive tokens of appreciation from our staff.
On Thursday 14th between the hours of 10 a.m. and 12 noon, the staff at the Social Services Department will host a radio show dubbed “Take Me Back” on VON Radio. It will be an interactive programme that will involve seniors calling in to the programme. I take this opportunity to encourage our seniors to participate in this initiative.
On Friday 29th the Seniors Division will host a take-away lunch, and that will climax our activities for the month.
As we celebrate International Day of Older Persons today, I take this opportunity to extend very warm greetings to all of our seniors, and my hope is that you all will be pampered today by members of your family and friends. With all of the hard work that you have put in to the development of our beautiful island, you deserve this and much more.
I ask that families continue to use the extra time that the pandemic has provided you to continue to bond and develop an even closer relationship with our seniors. There is so much for us to learn from them. They have so much to share.
As we reflect on this year’s theme, “Digital Equity for All Ages,” let us seek to integrate our seniors in all spheres of technology, they ought not to be left behind.
They are capable of using cell phones too, so they can own one just like the rest of us. They are capable of having a Facebook account and being on Facebook too. They are capable of having an email address and using the phone or the computer to send and receive emails too. They can send and receive WhatsApp messages too. They are capable of using the phone or computer to check for all of the latest news and updates too. So if they are not too familiar with the cell phone, the tablet of the computer, take some time and teach them, exercise some patience until they are comfortable using them. You might be amazed to see how quickly they will learn.
The Nevis Island Administration through the Ministry of Social Development and the Department of Social Services will continue to support our seniors in every possible way. You seniors can continue to count on us. However, we will continue to engage you in the safest way possible as your well-being remains our priority.
Let me sincerely apologize for our scaled back activities for this year, as we know our seniors look forward to the events for Seniors Month. However, we want you to be safe and free from COVID.
I salute all seniors on the island during this your special day and month of celebration. I also take this opportunity to commend the efforts of the Seniors Division for the sterling service that you have been providing for our seniors.
Happy International Day of Older Persons and Happy Seniors Month.
May God bless us all as we salute and celebrate our seniors.