BASSETERRE, St. Kitts -– The “Golden-Year’s Club,” a recreational and training program for older persons, is being re-established in St. Kitts, according to the Ministry of Community Development, Gender Affairs and Social Services.
Funded by the Canadian Caribbean Initiative, The Golden-Year’s Club was established in St. Paul’s in 2004, to encourage seniors to socialize, go to exercise classes and do other stimulating activities. The club sponsors arts and crafts, healthy meal preparation and basic computer classes.
According to Ms. Laverne Richard, club social assistance officer, members are trained and then expected to graduate and take ownership of the group, managing it with their own leaders, schedule and activities.
In 2006, after the St. Paul’s’ group was established, a second club was formed in Cayon. It trained seniors and several older persons who had become redundant in 2005 when the Sugar Factory closed.
Ms. Richard said both clubs were very vibrant. They gave seniors an opportunity to stay active and mingle with each other. Members also interact with the younger generation and pass on their knowledge. She noted a book of ‘Local Sayings’ was created by the seniors attending club meetings. They were assisted with this project by then-Director of Culture, Creighton Pencheon.
Although both Golden Years Clubs eventually became inactive, Ms. Richard, who recently returned from study leave, said the groups will be revived and brought under the umbrella of the Ministry of Community Development for greater support.
While the immediate plan is to get the St. Paul’s and Cayon groups back ‘up and running,’ Ms. Richard said the medium-term plan is to establish a club in each community centre around the island. She said the ministry is looking for financial support to realizing that goal.
“The revived Golden Years Club will be stronger and will utilize the skills of retired persons as facilitators,” Ms. Richard said. “It will assist seniors to be recruited into positions where they can stay active, work, and/or pass on their skills and knowledge to other members.”
Ms. Richard said there is strong interest in restarting the seniors’ group and past members, who were previously isolated, inactive and in failing health, have experienced several health benefits from being club members. She said, according to their personal accounts and reports from the Health Centres they attended.
“Many elders didn’t get a chance to go through the club. They were always happy to come and socialize with their peers,” Ms. Richard explained. “The resurrection of the club is important as it decreases seniors’ social isolation, while providing companionship, a sense of purpose and overall well-being.”