Feature
Members of the Faith Senior Citizens Group in St. James perform at the National Council for Senior Citizens (NCSC) Parish Cultural Day, staged in Montego Bay, recently.
Photo: Serena Grant

Story Highlights

  • The National Council for Senior Citizens (NCSC), which has 84,000 registered members islandwide, is ensuring that the country’s golden-agers live full lives, through several programmes and activities.
  • The NCSC, an agency of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, networks with the private sector, voluntary organisations and citizens to develop programmes and activities that promote active ageing; encourage participation in nation building; highlight the work and worth of seniors; meet physical and socio-economic needs; promote intergenerational approaches; and advocate for senior citizens.
  • They also provide referral services and encourage involvement in income-generating and community-care projects.

The National Council for Senior Citizens (NCSC), which has 84,000 registered members islandwide, is ensuring that the country’s golden-agers live full lives, through several programmes and activities.

The NCSC, an agency of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, networks with the private sector, voluntary organisations and citizens to develop programmes and activities that promote active ageing; encourage participation in nation building; highlight the work and worth of seniors; meet physical and socio-economic needs; promote intergenerational approaches; and advocate for senior citizens.

They also provide referral services and encourage involvement in income-generating and community-care projects.

Through the Council, several subgroups, which are referred to as Senior Citizen groups, have been formed across the country.

It is against this background that the St. James Chapter of the NCSC is on a mission to ensure that seniors in the parish feel a sense of inclusion and purpose.

A typical meeting of the St. James Chapter sees 320 members of 28 sub-NCSC groups in the parish coming together, querying about each other’s well-being and discussing their extensive list of activities.

Parish organiser for the NCSC, St. James Chapter, Shari-Ann Jackson, tells JIS News that the Council has several programmes in place, some of which are held at the parish, regional and national levels. These include health seminars, workshops and health talks, which are done to promote healthy lifestyle practices.

Parish Organiser of the National Council for Senior Citizens (NCSC), St. James Chapter, Shari-Ann Jackson, gives an address at the organisation’s Parish Cultural Day, held in Montego Bay, recently.

“We also do computer workshops, in collaboration with parish libraries, and income-generating projects,” Ms. Jackson notes.

Ms. Jackson also highlights that the Council encourages members to visit shut-ins in their communities, which is a way of letting those seniors know that they are not alone.

The highlight of the organisation, however, are the gaming and sports tournaments at the parish, regional and national levels, which foster camaraderie among the seniors.

Member of the Beautiful Years Senior Citizens Club, Hyacinth Mitchell, says she was recently awarded the most outstanding sportsperson in the St. James chapter and won several medals in a variety of events at the NCSC’s recently held sports day.

The 66-year-old says the opportunity to socialise is the highlight of being a part of the group. “Being at home you know you are alone, but when you come to be with the group there are so many things that you can learn from the members,” Ms. Mitchell says.

For Doris May Sterling, a member of the Blessing and Honour Senior Citizens Club in St. James, participation and goodwill are her main takeaways from the group.

Retired firefighter, Doret Murray, who has been President of the Reach Out Senior Citizens Club, in the parish, says that after retiring, the last thing she wanted to do was to sit at home.

“I needed something that would keep me active. Being a part of the NCSC, there are a lot of activities. We go out on trips, we visit shut-ins, as well as make crafts and many other things, all of which keep me occupied. I love it very much,” the 65-year–old retiree tells JIS News.

The NCSC also teaches craft making to members, who usually use their new-found skills to generate income for their clubs.

Member of the Soaring Eagles Senior Citizens Club, in St. James, Pauline Jackson-Grant, says that learning to make new items is one of the highlights of being in the club.

Member of the Sunbeam Senior Citizens Group, in St. James, Paulette Smith, gives a dramatic rendition of ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’, at the National Council for Senior Citizens (NCSC) Parish Cultural Day, held in Montego Bay recently.

 

“I learn to make craft items such as bags and key rings, placemats and coasters,” she notes.

Mrs. Jackson-Grant says she was a cheerleader at the Council’s sports day, and recently represented the parish in the national spelling bee competition. The camaraderie among the seniors, however, is what she treasures the most.

“My favourite part is meeting other seniors from across the island and socialising with them. We talk about what we are enjoying about our senior years. Usually, I would stay home and sleep, but since joining the club, I have been meeting other seniors,” she tells JIS News.

As the organisation continues to grow, the NCSC is extending an invitation to all senior citizens to be a part of their activities and programmes.