Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Honourable Dr Terrance Drew, welcomed the launch of the Seniors’ Day Programme, noting that it will help to improve and enrich the lives of the retired participants.
At the launching ceremony on Monday (March 20, 2023) at the Newtown Community Centre, the Prime Minister recounted his years at a university in Cuba where he saw centres for seniors to visit and gain computer skills, learn knitting, and other skills that they did not know. Implementing a similar programme here was deemed necessary, as persons are living longer, and outside of the church, are often left without any organized activities to participate in.
“As a result of not having meaningful activities, your (blood) pressure goes up more than it should, and your sugar (diabetes) goes up more than it should. Sometimes you are home, and your television is in front of you, and you don’t have anyone to sit and speak to …” Prime Minister Dr. Drew stated. “Therefore, the idea is to create this type of daycare so that you can come out, come to your community centre, have a programme set out for you so that you can continue a life of meaning and worth.”
Social protection for seniors is a key component of the government’s agenda. In fact, the creation of the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Ageing and Disabilities earlier this year signalled the intention to place greater focus on these special groups in society.
“We believe we should look after our elders in our communities. That is the objective. That is why when we did the PAP (Poverty Alleviation Programme), we made sure that you got access to it as well because a lot of you retire and you get a very small amount from social security,” the Prime Minister stated, noting that at times it may be financially challenging for the seniors to buy medication or special types of food.
“And that is why we say we have to look after you better and we have to create environments like this. So, I am happy we are able to pilot this programme—A place where you can look forward to coming to. A place where you would be cared for … and develop yourself even at this particular time in your life and believe it or not, it will help your pressure, your sugar, and social interaction, taking away your anxiety and adding value and substance to your life.”
The Seniors’ Day Programme officially began on Monday following a ceremony at the Newtown Community Centre. The programme will be piloted in East Basseterre, St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays respectively. During the 9 am to 2 pm scheduled hours, the participants will engage in various fun and educational activities.
Discussions on topics such as proper foot care for diabetics, healthy eating, financial management and disaster preparedness will be held.