Hon. Eric Evelyn, Minister of Social Development in the Nevis Island Administration.

Hon. Eric Evelyn, Minister of Social Development in the Nevis Island Administration, delivered the following address to mark International Day of Older Persons and the start of Seniors Month on Tuesday.

Fellow citizens, 

I greet you on the occasion of the International Day of Older Persons and the start of the celebrations of Seniors Month.  It has been customary for us to celebrate October as the Month of Older Persons.  This has been the case for a number of years and of course this year is no exception.   

The month-long celebration was born out of the observance of the International Day of Older Persons.  The International Day of Older Persons is celebrated annually on the 1st October.  This day, set aside by the United Nations, recognizes the contributions of older persons to the development of society.   It is also dedicated to honor, respect and care for the world’s elderly.  

This day also seeks to raise awareness of the impact of an ageing population, and to ensure that while growing old the dignity and the right to participate in society remain.

This year’s Month of Older Persons is being celebrated under the theme “The Journey of Age Equality”.  

The theme is very timely.  It calls us to recognize that irrespective of our age, we are all equal and we should be treated as such.  It also serves as a reminder that seniors deserve to be treated with respect, not only by the persons who are given the responsibility to care for them but by all of us. 

It is important to note that according to statistics, over 20 percent of the world’s population will be over 60 years by the year 2050.  With this projection, attention must be given to the needs and challenges of older persons, and efforts should be made to ensure that they continue to function in society.  This is an inherent part of human rights.

Today, as I join with counterparts throughout the region and by extension the world in celebrating International Day of Older Persons, I wish to place on record my deepest appreciation to the members of staff at the Department of Social Services Senior Citizens Division for their committed and quality service in ensuring that our seniors on Nevis receive the best possible service. 

I wish to state categorically that the services and programmes provided for our seniors are nothing short of phenomenal.  They are simply second to none in the region and probably among the best in the world. To justify this statement, my Department of Social Services do not limit itself to only celebrating International Day of the Elderly; but an entire month of activities dedicated to our seniors has been planned.  

This of course is in addition to, and in support of the year-round programmes and activities they are engaged in and are able to enjoy.

A number of activities have been very carefully planned as we celebrate our seniors during the month of October, and we are soliciting the support of the general public where and when possible.  

On Sunday September 29th the seniors on the island came together and worshipped at the Jessups New Testament Church.  During the service, seniors were able to take part in the service through song, poetry and a scripture reading.  We were very warmly welcomed and I extend words of appreciation to Pastor James Douglas and his congregation for the warm reception. 

Starting on Wednesday the 2nd and for every Wednesday during the month, there will be community outreach. That will involve our care givers going into the homes of our seniors.  

On Friday October 4th, the Seniors Division will collaborate with the Health Promotion Unit in the hosting of a health fair which will commence at 9 a.m. at the Memorial Square in Charlestown.  This is an activity that members of the general public are invited to participate in and support.  

Some of our seniors will be featured on VON Radio’s morning inspiration on Monday 7th and then on Tuesday 8th they will be engaged in a health walk.  This walk will start at the old Zion School, goes to the St. James Raceway and back to where it started.  It will commence at 5 p.m. and members of the public can feel free to join the seniors.  

Friday the 11th has been dubbed Fun ‘N’ Action Day when we are expecting seniors from St. Kitts to join ours on Nevis and they will converge on the E.T.W Park to have some fun and games.  

Two inter-generational exchange activities have been planned during the month and they are slated for Monday 14th and Monday 28th at the St. Thomas Primary and VOJN Primary schools respectively.  This has been an ongoing activity when seniors from the respective communities visit primary schools to mix, mingle and share with the students.  

This year, Flamboyant Week is back as part of the month of celebration, and it will commence on Monday 21st and ends on Friday 25th.  This is done in collaboration with the management and staff of the Flamboyant Nursing Home. 

One of the highlights of our month of activities is the Seniors Pageant slated for Saturday 26th at the Cultural Complex.  

We have included an essay writing completion as part of our month of activities and the winners will be announced on Tuesday 29th.  

For those who may not be aware of the topic for the competition, it is “What are the qualities and accomplishments that are necessary to justify senior citizens as human rights champions”.  Primary school children should write 600 words, secondary students ages 13 to 18, 1000 words and adults 55 and older 600 words.  The deadline for submission is Tuesday the 15th.  

The celebration will culminate with an “Afternoon on the Lawn” at Government House.

I take this opportunity to urge everyone to continue to care for and respect the senior members of your family.  Cherish them, spend quality time with them; take them out but most importantly learn from them. They deserve it!  Our seniors are our trail blazers and they have done so much for the development of our communities, the island and the Federation.  

Once again let me highly commend the efforts of the Seniors Division for organizing the month of celebration of our seniors. 

I salute all seniors on the island during this your special month of celebration.  Happy International Day of Older Persons and Happy Seniors Month.

May God bless us all as we salute and celebrate our seniors on their Journey of Age Equality.