Within the scope of the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations many countries are celebrating Seniorforce Day events in October, highlighting the potential and value of seniors as volunteers and their valuable contribution to society.
In Portugal, around 800 citizens gathered on 6 October at the Estadio Nacional do Jamor, Oeiras, in a Seniorforce Day held under the title “Gerações em Movimento” (Generations in Movement) and where people of all ages were invited to participate in an extensive programme of sports, health promotion, and wellness.
An 80 years old volunteer who offers her knowledge in order to stay active; a grandfather and his grandchild who share a canoe and learn how to work together; parents who introduce their children to traditional games that they have almost forgotten; men and women playing rugby for the first time... these are just some of the highlights of the Seniorforce Day in Portugal, organised by de National Coordinator of European Year in partnership with IPDJ (National Sports and Youth Institute), the City of Oeiras, RUTIS and several sports federations and NGOs.
Several authorities participating in the event highlighted the importance role of seniors among Portuguese families and in the daily life of their communities. Seniors are open to new experiences and to new dreams, they said.
Ireland celebrated its Seniorforce Day with a combination of two events held in Drogheda and Dundalk on the 5th and the 7th of October.
Both festive events, attended by more than 100 people, marked the end of a fruitful week, in which young people from various schools around Dundalk and Drogheda gained insight into the contribution made by senior volunteers in their communities. Around 60 young students were paired up with 50 older volunteers and discovered firsthand what exactly their “partners” do to help out locally. Undoubtedly both generations gained a better understanding and appreciation of one another as a result of the project, run by the Louth Volunteer Centre.
Speaking about the project, Geraldine Mulvihill, the Principal of Our Lady’s College in Greenhills, Drogheda, said: “For students, it’s an ideal time to experience another side of life so that they can learn more about the world around them and perhaps view their own circumstances in a different light”. John Cotterell, Manager of Louth Volunteer Centre said: “As anyone who has ever volunteered knows, it is a very humbling experience and one which gives you plenty of food for thought. The older generation of volunteers have actually made a ‘double contribution’ – to their volunteering cause and by giving the students this fantastic opportunity. We at the Louth Volunteer Centre are very excited about the project and believe it has made a hugely positive contribution to all involved.”
The students have been asked to write a case study of their experience which will appear on the Louth Volunteer Centre’s website.