The time has come to celebrate our centenarians with greater fanfare.

This is according to Minister of Social Care, Community Development and Constituency Empowerment, Steven Blackett, who was addressing the Inaugural National Community Centenarian Award and Induction Ceremony, held recently at the George Lamming Primary School, Flint Hall, St. Michael.

He noted that the centennial ceremony which was conceived by Government Advisor on Social Policy, Hamilton Lashley, was a fitting way to do this, along with the practice of birthday visits by the Governor-General.

???I am of the view that the introduction of this Centennial Awards Ceremony for our centenarians is something that should have been done a long time ago. It is indeed a much deserving and commemorative way to pay respect and honour to our men and women for achieving this commendable milestone of 100 years of living on this earth.

???Today, we will introduce a special way to celebrate this big occasion by honouring centenarians with Lifetime Achievement Awards. Plaques with their pictures will be placed in a school or community centre of their choice, as a symbol of respect and the achievement of the milestone of living 100 years. This new approach places these centenarians as focal points and icons in their respective communities,??? he stated.

Noting that ???longevity has become one of the wonders of Barbados???, the Minister pointed out that this was testament to the improvements in health care in Barbados.

???It tells us as a Government that in spite of the many economic challenges which we face, we must continue to provide accessible health care for our citizens in order to combat the high incidence of chronic non-communicable diseases amongst us. We must also not wane in the promotion of our active aging programme,??? Minister Blackett said.

Mr. Blackett also paid tribute to Elise Weekes who was the first centenarian to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. He described her as a hardworking individual with a deep and abiding faith in God, who still has a ???fantastic memory??? and is still capable of taking care of her own needs.

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