JIS News

For most persons, retirement is a time for relaxation, after years of contributing to the development of the country. However, for some it’s a time to learn a new skill or to further their education.
In an interview with JIS News, Parish Organiser for the National Council for Senior Citizens (NCSC) in Manchester, Mrs. Estella Dyer-Crawford, says that senior citizens are valuable assets, and programmes have been developed to expose them to skills they can apply in their daily lives.
“Our seniors here in Manchester go to the parish library where they get basic training in computer skills. We also have the National Council for Senior Citizens’ Competitions and we have the Spelling Bee competition. The programmes are geared for our seniors to expose their knowledge and interact with the younger persons and to be useful citizens in society,” she says.
Recently, some 19 senior citizens graduated from a computer course offered by the Manchester Parish Library, and Mrs. Dyer-Crawford notes that it was well received by community members, especially the elderly.
“I realise that with the library, they get there before 9 o’clock and some of the seniors report that when they go back home, their grandchildren actually help them with the Spelling Bee. So, what is happening is that they have this relationship with the youngsters, a sort of bonding, and now are able to move along with the changes when we have them involved in all these educational programmes,” she tells JIS News.
“They were excited about it, with a few asking, can I manage? They were willing to go and try, because as seniors you do not want to be left out. Nobody is writing letters now and they need to hear from the children and other members of the family who are abroad. Some of the grandchildren have bought their grandparents computers, so that they can correspond with them,” she adds.
The 19 senior citizens were presented with certificates of participation at a ceremony, which was held on September 15, at the Mandeville Parish Church Hall, in Manchester.
Mr. Glenford Bromfield and his wife, Laura, are senior citizens who have grasped the opportunity offered by the Manchester Parish Library to learn something new about the computer. They were introduced to basic computer skills, which they now use to communicate with their children abroad.
“We heard about it through the senior citizen movement and we volunteered to join the classes. I was very impressed after I went to the library and saw what they were doing. A lot of the people were younger than I, and it seems as if it was just another going back to school (activity),” Mr. Bromfield says.
“It was really exciting until the time of graduation. I am hoping that I could go further, but lightening hit my laptop, but if the library could give us further courses or even if somebody has to contribute towards it, I would be very appreciative of it,” he adds.
Mr. Bromfield says other senior citizens should use the opportunities given to them to learn something new.
“I think it would help some persons, and some have already done that. I think you should go back to get further training and further experience. I am just excited about this programme and I never know that people of our age would be excited about something like the computer. But we have learnt now and have seen that it is the thing of the day, so we should learn as much as we can,” he says.
In her interview, Mrs. Bromfield tells JIS News that it is wonderful to be in the age of technology. “It is wonderful, because in this age of technology, we know now that it is very important, because with our children abroad in England, the United States and Canada, it is a lot easier to keep in touch, and it is so much nicer when you can go on the internet and talk to them,” she notes.
“The exciting thing about it was that a lot of these seniors, unfortunately, had never been to high school, never had a graduation, because in those days we weren’t graduating from public schools, like they do now; it was so exciting to see them now,” she adds.
At the graduation, Regional Director of the Clarendon and Manchester Library Network, Mrs. Lorraine McLean, said she was delighted to see the seniors graduating from the computer training programme.
“It is a pleasure for me to see our senior citizens graduating from our computer classes at the library,” she said. The Regional Director noted that some of the seniors who took the computer course showed courage, as many of them had retired before being introduced to the computer.
“We at the library felt that it is a service that we are offering to our senior citizens, because our world has changed so much, because of technology. Many senior citizens left the working world before they were introduced to computers. Some people were introduced before they left, but we think it is a service to offer the course, so that senior citizens can help themselves, because in this technologically driven age, we do not want our senior citizens to be left behind,” she said.
Mrs. McLean pointed out that a similar group of senior citizens in Clarendon had also graduated from a computer course in August.
The National Council for Senior Citizens is an agency of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security that caters to Senior Citizens in Jamaica. The Council offers a number of programmes and activities that are geared towards improving the quality of life of seniors. Some of the activities offered include: handicraft skills, home help service, training and education, Information Technology, poster and essay competition and income generating activities. Persons can contact the Council at 926-2374/5 or 906-9272/8.

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