Public Health Communications Specialist
Ministry of Health/Social Development
The people of the Virgin Islands are living longer, with a life-expectancy that is among the highest in the Region.
This was disclosed by Minster for Health and Social Development, Honourable Ronnie W. Skelton, as he addressed senior citizens from across the Territory at the official opening of Senior Citizen’s Month.
Honourable Skelton said “Seniors are on the move towards healthier, more active, engaged and fulfilling lives. It is the collective responsibility of all of us to ensure that the people who have worked so hard and sacrificed so much to build this country are able to live out their golden years in peace, in comfort, and with dignity.”
This year marks the 26th observance of Senior Citizens Month which is designed to ensure that past and present contributions of senior citizens are recognised, valued and celebrated. The theme, “Get into the Act: BVI Seniors on the Move,” also speaks to the active participation that seniors should continue to play to inspire, motivate and educate the next generation.
The opening ceremony was attended by almost 200 seniors, their families, friends and caregivers. Dignitaries including Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE, Minister for Health and Social Development, Honourable Ronnie W. Skelton, Minister for Communications and Works, Honourable Mark Vanterpool, and former Members of the House of Assembly were also present.
The programme featured remarks from the Premier, music, scripture, poetry, the crowning of the senior of the year, and a motivational speech from Pastor Howard Simon of the BVI Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Pastor Simon shared six steps to being an excellent elder using the acronym S.E.N.I.O.R. In his message he encouraged seniors to Share, be Enthusiastic, be Nice, Inspire, be Optimistic and to nurture quality Relationships with others.
The senior of the year recognition went to Ms. Elmera Dawson who raised $3,441 for her East End Long Look Senior Centre. First runner-up was Ms. Inez Smith-Francis, representing Brewers Bay, second runner up Ms. Marion Scatliffe, Road Town, third runner up Ms. Ivy O’Neal, Road Town and fourth runner up Ms. Ida Barry, Sea Cows Bay Senior Centre.
Senior Citizens’ Month activities include a display of craft and cultural artifacts at the Sugar Works Museum for the entire month. There will also be intergenerational activities and open houses at the East End Long Look Centre on Wednesday, May 6, at the Carrot Bay and Sea Cows Bay Centres, on Friday, May 8, the Anegada Centre on May 14, and the Road Town and Brewers Bay Centres on May 15.
An Aging enrichment Seminar titled the ‘Older Adult and Sexuality’ will be held on May 14 at 5:30 p.m. at the Red Cross Conference Room, while there will be an open house at the Adina Donovan Home from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on May 20. A day trip to Cooper Island is planned for Friday, May 22, and the month of activities will close with a Senior Mix n’ Mingle on Friday, May 29 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Noel Lloyd Park. The community is encouraged to support the activities.
The Social Development Department is committed to enhancing the quality of life for senor citizens through the promotion of social and physical interactions, creative arts, outings and other recreational activities.