Senior citizens in St. Bartholomew and surrounding communities in Christ Church can benefit once again from the National Assistance Board’s Seniors’ Recreational Activities programme, following the reopening of the St. Bartholomew Seniors’ Recreational Activities Centre.
The programme, first launched in 1990, is now held at 17 centres across Barbados, where seniors participate in the making of soaps, jewellery, soft furnishings, flower arranging, bead craft, dancing and other social and recreational activities.
Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Steven Blackett, said the reopening gave an opportunity to reflect on the opportunities which these programmes could provide “within the context of our ageing society and the realities of our current economic circumstances”.
“This programme was created as a shift away from the uni-dimensional paradigm which saw healthy ageing as being a process where focus is only on the biological ageing process. The active ageing concept is based on the principle that the older adult has rights as expressed in the United Nations Charter (1992),” he explained.
Mr. Blackett added that this paradigm shift also focused on the empowerment of the elderly by abandoning the ‘needs-based’ methodologies of the past and acknowledging the United Nations Declaration that older adults have a right to equality of opportunity over the latter stages of their life.
“From the outset, the National Assistance Board recognised that many older adults in its Home Care Programme were seen as dependent, passive individuals with little or no opportunities to participate in the home or community. The elimination of this social isolation of our growing elderly population from community participation was one of the major objectives of the Seniors’ Recreational Activities Programme.
“Not only does the programme offer the elderly opportunities to participate in community activities, but at the core of the programme is the older adult’s right to choose the level and type of activities they will engage in each term,” he stated.
The Social Care Minister also urged Barbadians to encourage and support older adults in their homes, communities, churches and associations to participate in these programmes.
He also applauded the participants for their discipline, application and determination in helping to reopen the centre, and most importantly, for participating.