SATURDAY, 23 FEBRUARY 2013
~Senior: ‘We are going down in history’~
PHILIPSBURG–“We are going down in history,” senior citizen Olive Hodge said as she walked ahead of a group of an estimated 200 senior citizens who took a bold step to show how active they can be on Friday, when they came out in force to stroll through Philipsburg.
The seniors, some in wheelchairs, began their stroll at Sea Palace Hotel on Front Street and made stops at Oranje School and St. Joseph School along the route. Several dignitaries including Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams, Deputy Prime Minister William Marlin, Health Minister Cornelius de Weever, President of Parliament Rodolphe Samuel and independent Member of Parliament Romaine Laville walked with the seniors.
The elderly ended their stroll at the Government Administration Building, where they were served refreshments and addressed by several dignitaries.
“It was not a demonstration and we did not have any placards, but we walked and it was enjoyable,” senior citizen Mary Rogers said at the end of the stroll. She told The Daily Herald that that when Home Away From Home Taking Care of the Elderly Foundation official Patsy Flanders told her about the stroll she thought it was “the funniest thing” and she could not stop laughing.
Rogers said she pictured in her mind a number of senior citizens walking down Front Street and persons coming out of the stores and lining the street watching them and she could not stop laughing. She said, however, that after experiencing the event she was happy that it was held because it was quite exciting and enjoyable. “I had a lot of fun,” Rogers told this newspaper while sitting under a tent in front of the Government Administration Building.
Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams said the stroll was a demonstration of unity and willpower. “I would like to say kudos to all of you for being part of this very important event. I want to say congratulations to all of the schools who have helped out this morning and whose students came out to greet us along the way.
“What a feeling of pride it is to walk through our Front Street where representatives of government have the opportunity to recognise the contribution you have made to the country of St. Maarten. Together we can continue to build our home, Sweet St. Maarten Land.”
Deputy Prime Minister William Marlin told the seniors that the stroll was an opportunity for them to come alive again in their country. “This is your day,” he said adding that the day was an opportunity for the seniors to look back in the past and reflect on what today means as was demonstrated in the prayers said. He said the seniors had paved the way for us to be here and it was a privilege for them to have served the community they way they did.
Health Minister Cornelius de Weever said for the last two years he had been working to improve the lives of senior citizens. He said government was busy with the elderly study and given the challenges experienced during the stroll along Front Street with wheelchairs, some things will have to be changed. De Weever said he is committed to improving the lives of seniors.
The stroll was organised by the Home Away from Home Taking Care of the Elderly Foundation and involved seniors from that foundation as well as from the St. Martin’s Home, St. Maarten Recreational Foundation and Helping Hands Foundation.
Students from the St. Maarten Vocational Training School, the Voice of Our Children Foundation and the drum band were also part of the exercise.
The event began with a prayer and the singing of the St. Maarten Song by Golden Voices of SMVTS.
At the end of the event the seniors were taken to the John Larmonie Centre where they were served lunch.