Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 04, 2018 (SKNIS): The Ministry of Community Development, Gender Affairs and Social Services has devised ways to combat prejudice and discrimination on the basis of a person’s age, also known as ageism, says Acting Permanent Secretary, Janelle Lewis, appearing on the Wednesday, October 03, edition of “Working for You.”

Mrs. Lewis stated that interaction between children and older persons is key to reducing ageism. She explained that when the ministry celebrates an older person’s birthday, the staff would visit his or her home and bring along school children.

“So it gave the children a chance to interact with the older persons. They would sing songs, read together and they would just communicate with each other,” she said. “So the older person got a sense of belonging and the younger persons learnt to appreciate the older person and it was a place where experience and wisdom could be shared with the younger persons.”

The “Adopt a Grandparent Programme” is also a way that ageism can be decreased, said Mrs. Lewis, explaining that it is a programme where persons who do not have living grandparents or their grandparents are overseas can adopt an older person within their community.

“They can go and visit that older person, do chores for that person and they would learn a sense of responsibility,” said Mrs. Lewis. “They would understand that we are all accountable for each other and again it is a chance for them to form a bond or relationship with that older person.”

Another avenue that the ministry will be exploring is the “The Golden Years Club.” The acting permanent secretary said the programme will see school children visiting the older persons who are a part of that programme.

“So these young persons would now begin to understand that these older persons are an active part of society and we can do things together,” she said. “Yes, there would be that generation gap, but there would still be some similarities and things that you can share with each other. For example, you have an older person, we like to say older persons can teach the younger persons things, but young people can also teach older persons things. We are now in the technology age where we have cell phones and older persons have cell phones. We can have a young person who can go in and teach that older person how to use it such as teaching them how to Whatsapp, Skype and talk through messenger video, so you can talk to your grandchild who lives overseas.”

Acting Permanent Secretary Janelle Lewis said that older persons are more active than persons think and that society should not discard them because of their age.