On Thursday Helpage, through the Ministry of Social Transformation, hosted the launch of the Saint Lucia Council of and for Older Persons’ month of activities. Among the plethora of activities in the month of October there will be a one-of-a-kind Club 60 Pageant. During the press huddle the well-poised Genifa Jolie stated, “The contestants are aged sixty and above and we have five contestants so far. We were aiming for contestants from every community, but that didn’t happen.”
The finely aged participants will be competing in the same manner as any other pageant with the addition of a wob dwiyet section. The purpose of the contest is to inspire public awareness of citizens sixty years and older, highlighting the fact that they are still agile and energetic and maintain the ability to participate in whatever activity they wish. Proceeds from the activities are geared towards assisting the elderly in need.
According to Jolie, children of the aged should be educated and informed on methods of dealing with seniors. “They need to be taught this, and education executed on a national basis, whether one has a parent who is aged or not. Elderly people on the street, too, require assistance.”
Probed about her views on the recent attacks on older persons Jolie expressed, “In terms of the recent sexual attacks on older persons this is indeed a concern. Elderly people should not be left on their own; they can be taken to Helpage so they have the opportunity to socialise with people like themselves with whom they can sit and communicate. Left all alone at home they become vulnerable and that is one of the things we should be cognizant of, not making them vulnerable to these types of attacks.”
Peter Fevrier, President of the National Council for older Persons, also addressed the audience citing that in many cases people aren’t allowed the political, economical or cultural opportunity to continue contributing to society while simultaneously participating in the lives of community members.
“It’s important to address this problem locally, an issue misunderstood by many; it manifests in many forms. Once one has attained the age of 40, most people believe they should take a back seat and remain uninvolved,” according to the president. The same, he asserts, applies to the retirement age of sixty.
The aim of the council is to highlight and publicise this age prejudice as a major issue.
A special mass and luncheon is organised for October 1 at the Dennery SDA Church. Government dignitaries and Club 60 members will be in attendance to recognise those who have contributed to the lives of older citizens.
October 9 has been reserved for the Golden Pageant, a beauty, and talent pageant, which will showcase the numerous talents of those who have reached retirement age but are not ready to rest on their laurels.
The month of recognition and advocacy culminates with an exhibition of the talent of seniors, including handicraft and cake-making, scheduled for the Comfort Bay in Vieux Fort and the Town Hall in Castries.