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The Portuguese closing event of the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations on 3 December in Braga was attended by László Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion; Pedro Mota Soares, Minister of Solidarity and Social Security, Maria Joaquina Madeira, National Coordinator of the Year, and by several organisations that created and developed social projects supporting intergenerational solidarity and active ageing, as well as the Ambassador of the Year, journalist Fernanda Freitas.
From projects integrating seniors in the workplace, to programmes fighting social exclusion, the promotion of dialogue between generations and the creation of adapted cultural and sports activities, "Portugal was one of the most active countries over the year" commented László Andor in his speech. He went on to praise the efforts of participating organisations and individuals, who had devoted their time to building a more just and productive country, for everyone. Portugal was also a European example "in the organisation of conferences, events and participation in the awards."
The first session of the event was opened by Maria Joaquina Madeira and Hugo Alexandre Polido Pires, President of Bracara Augusta Foundation, who also honoured the Portuguese national winners of the European Year 2012 Awards.
The "Route of Active Ageing", winner of the category Towards Age-Friendly Environments, provided one of the most complete and consistent programmes, which for example explored exercise as a way of curing and preventing a number of diseases, as well as offering a support office to help Elderly People in various matters of daily life: bureaucratic, financial, social...
The “Promotion and Sociocultural Integration in Alzheimer's Disease” project received recognition in the category Social Entrepreneurs, presented by Teresa Farejão, from the Portuguese Association of Friends and family members of Alzheimer's patients, which created various programmes and activities throughout the year, and sought to achieve a "greater well-being of the individual with Alzheimer's, maintaining their dignity and the guaranteeing their rights through the promotion of active ageing and solidarity between generations."
Winner of the Workplaces for all Ages category was the EDP Group's "Valuing experience" programme. “We intend to use all the colours of the palette that we have, not just a few," explained Maria João Martins, EDP Group HR director.
The afternoon session opened with music by the Calouste Gulbenkian Conservatory and the Odivelas City Hall Project, followed by comments by Pedro Mota Soares, Minister of Solidarity and Security Social; László Andor, European Commissioner; and Victor Manuel Amaral de Sousa, Deputy Mayor of Braga. "A dialogue between generations" moderated by journalist Fernanda Freitas then preceeded the closing of the event.
"Portugal is in the top 10 in terms of inclusion, and level of employment of older people. It is an example. Portugal has this attitude in their DNA. We are a very old but at the same time a very young nation" commented the Minister.
"When they ask who you are, answer what have you done! What you did, you are", highlighted Maria Joaquina Madeira, using the words of Father Martins de Oliveira to express her vision about the European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations. "The things we still need to do, make us responsible, and what we've done already, inspires us" she concluded, after recalling the year's achievements "in fighting senior exclusion; the numerous events, the sharing of experience and knowledge; social awareness and the appreciation of best practices."
There is a long way to go, but Portugal has already found the right direction, said Madeira. As for the near future, it is urgent to reach some the goals already established, such as: creating "platforms for the participation and representation of senior policy at local and national level"; or "help to families most hit by the crisis" and "policies and practices in accordance with the objective of promoting active ageing."
Picture gallery of the event.
Click here to browse through a selection of EY2012-related initiatives in Portugal.
For more information about the European Year 2012 in Portugal you may visit this webpage.