This issue was stressed by Supervisor of Social Development Mrs. Denise Byron-Morris who explained that these new programmes were first publicized at a Media Outreach at the start of October, which is the month dedicated to celebrate older persons.
She added that the media-related question and answer forum was also used to commemorate the 10th Year of the Home Care Officers Programme.
The Inter-Generational Exchange Programme which started Monday, October 17, is one of the offerings that are forging a connection between the young and the old.
“With the changing of family dynamics, more and more of our young people are not living in extended family households anymore,” Mrs. Byron-Morris outlined. “As such, they do not benefit from the wisdom of a senior to guide their development. Therefore, the Department of Social Services in conjunction with schools and youth groups and organizations will provide young people with the opportunity to spend quality time with seniors during the Month of Older Persons.”
The Supervisor of Social Development explained that her department was in the process of coordinating visits of older persons to primary schools around the island, during morning Assemblies or Devotions. These senior citizens would be encouraged to share and teach songs to the children and enjoy the interaction that such visits would entertain. Seniors would also be invited to social studies and history classes which provide more time for interaction and the sharing of personal experiences of days gone by in St. Kitts and Nevis. Mrs. Morris vividly recalled writing a very successful Second Form Paper on the oral facts of the Buckley’s Riot of 1935, told to her by one Charlie Richards, and her grandfather, who both lived through the experience.
“Far too many of our senior citizens pass away without the opportunity of having their life stories told or formally recorded to posterity,” Mrs. Byron-Morris noted. “As such, along with the Department of Culture and various organizations, we will be producing video documentaries on the lives of seniors.”
Supervisor Byron-Morris detailed that representatives from various groups and organisations such as Eagle Boys Club of St. Peter’s, East Basseterre East Pearl Queen Contestants, the 4H Club, Verchilds’ High School Queen Pageant Contestants, SOYA of Saddlers, SPIRIT of Sandy Point and the St. George’s Anglican Scout Troupe will be interviewing the elders while the Department of Culture will undertake the video recording. The Department of Youth and the Ministry of Education were also acknowledged for their contribution.
Mrs. Byron-Morris noted that while these and several other initiatives would take place during October, the thought was that they should continue on a regular basis. Similarly, she took the opportunity to encourage the general public to esteem and value elders throughout the year, noting that their contribution to the development of the Federation should not be taken for granted. The Supervisor also encouraged the public to inform her department of additional elders so that they could also be video-taped and included in the Adopt-An-Elder Programme.
“As of now, we service certain clients, but we are trying to reach out to the general public,” Mrs. Byron-Morris emphasized. “So if there are others [elders] out there, we would appreciate if persons can tell us… We would like to see that documented, as well, the next around.
The newly submitted elders would also be added to Social Development’s service listing, which is the basis of an island-wide database of older persons that is currently being compiled by the Department of Social Services.