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Dec 17, 2004

Senior citizens rock at Christmas party…

Story PictureThey say that around half of Belize’s population is under eighteen, making it one of the youngest countries on the planet…but I’ve got a little secret about the other half: someone forgot to tell them their age. Patrick Jones explains.

Patrick Jones, Reporting
The annual party for older persons gave over a hundred senior citizens a chance to shake their legs, eat some ham and turkey and of course pick up Christmas gifts. Executive Director of HELPAGE Sharon Polack says it?s a special time for these very special men and women.

Sharon Polack, Executive Director, HELPAGE
?For some of these people this is the only party that they attend. I know today I picked up at least eight that this will be the only celebration that they will have really. They really look forward to it. Even the ones in the Sister Cecilia Home that get the celebration there, just to get into the bus and come over here is wonderful.?

The party was hosted by staff of the House of Culture with inputs from the Institute of Creative Arts and Museum of Belize. Activities Director Phyllis Butler says the smiles on the faces of the senior citizens was worth all the work that went into today?s event.

Phyllis Lightburn Butler, Activities Director, House of Culture
?House of Culture staff, we are hosting the elderly from HELPAGE and we provide the tents, the tables the chairs, the drinks, some gifts and music by Mr. Peters and dance from the Institute of Creative Arts.?

Patrick Jones
?What does it mean to you the staff to be doing something like this for the elderly at Christmas time??

Phyllis Lightburn Butler
?I think, it?s our community project for the year through NICH, and for us it?s very meaningful because we are giving back to the elderly. They are the foundation of all organisations in Belize and this is our way of giving back to the elderly.?

The celebration was complete with Garifuna drumming…cultural dancing…Santa Clause and this year, a visit from the mythical character Anansi, which brought laughter to many in the audience.

Ruby Montes
?I only love it bad. Oh yes because I love it. I love to dance from I young. I love to dance. I love this kind of thing bad. ?

Patrick Jones
?How does it feel to be among other people of your peer??

Ruby Montes
?Wow!!! It?s fine man with all the brothers and sisters. It is very fine. I feel happy, Joy, alright, happiness and gladness in our hearts and minds to be in such a, friend being with us and this day of Christmas, it?s so joyful to be with my friends them and with you too.?

Francisca Vera
?Yes I like dance. But for God and for here and so everything. Because I sick and I enjoy it because of my foot I do it. And I like the young boy because he teach me how to dance.?

Ethelvina Vasquez
(Speaks in Spanish) ?I like to be among my friends. We are all having fun.?

Violet Wills
?Oh, wonderful. Wonderful. I am enjoying myself very much.?

Patrick Jones
?An activity, what does it do for the older persons??

Violet Wills
?Well I think it is very healthy for the older folks. You get to meet people; you meet old ones and new ones, old friends and new friends. And we enjoy ourselves together.?

Steven Webster
?The air is very pleasant today. It?s pleasant for me to be out here today. I enjoy it very good.?

Leonie Belizaire
?Oh good. Most of them dah mi people from Helpage. ?

Patrick Jones
?What you like most about today??

Leonie Belizaire
?I like the Santa. I like Anansi. I like the dance that the young lady was dancing just now. Everything about it I like.?

Patrick Jones
?You think you could dance like that young lady there??

Leonie Belizaire
Oh sure.?

There were plenty of smiles to go around this afternoon and no one left the party without a gift. And while the big day is still a week away, for these senior citizens, the spirit of Christmas came eight days early. Patrick Jones, for News 5.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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