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Sep 29, 2003

Senior Citizens Week opens

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It’s Senior Citizens Week and since all of us, barring disaster, will one day reach that magic sixtieth birthday, it would be foolish–not to mention ungrateful-not to big up our favourite folks. Patrick Jones has more.

Patrick Jones, Reporting

Their footsteps may be a little slower, but the spirit of these seenagers is as electrically charged as Baldy Beacon in a thunderstorm. The reason for the celebration this afternoon is the opening of Senior Citizens Week 2003.

Maria Elena Sylvestre, Chairperson, Helpage Belize

“It’s a global recognition of older persons. The United Nations has declared October first Older Persons Day, and so all the organizations throughout the world that work for older persons observe this day, which is October first. Traditionally, Helpage Belize has taken the whole week encompassing October first for activities showing respect and love for our older persons.”

The activities include an Open Day on Wednesday at B.T.L. Park, a special mass for Shut-Ins and a field trip on Tuesday to Chetumal. Sylvestre says each district has its own programme of events designed to ensure that no one is left behind.

Maria Elena Sylvestre

“It is crucially important for the young and the middle age to realize that as one gets older, we get more or less marginalized. Older people are left behind and we should recognize their contributions that they have done. And we should stop and reflect as well that the day will come when we will also be older persons. So it’s a way of stopping and reflecting and showing our love for the condition that we know, what we call ageing; that it is a human condition, it is normal, and that the people we love are affected by it.”

With a population rapidly pushing towards three hundred thousand, older persons make up roughly seven percent of that number. By the year 2025, that percentage is expected to double. Chairperson of the National Council on Ageing, Kamela Palma, says preparations are being made to fully incorporate senior citizens in the development of the nation.

Kamela Palma, Chair., National Council on Ageing

“I would say Belize is preparing itself in the fact that we have a National Policy for older persons. There is a mechanism to ensure that that policy is put in place. We have partners, I’ve spoken about this before, with whom we are working actively. The national plan of action, you visited us when we were working on that. Thursday and Friday we have a strategic planning workshop. So there is a lot of active work going along. I would not say that we are prepared, but we certainly are preparing.”

Patrick Jones, for News 5.

The theme for Senior Citizens Week is “Older People: A Reflection of Our Future.”

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