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The kick-off event in Belgium of the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity Between Generations took place on March 8th in the premises of the Résidence Palace in Brussels.
The conference was opened by Gilbert de Swert, President of the EY 2012 Steering Committee, followed by a panel representing different organisations who outlined four initiatives related to the theme of the year.
The projects featured were: Vermist@HEKLA, a local police scheme for registering people with dementia to help if they go missing; Entr'âges, an intergenerational art project partnership between art students and residents of a rest home; Seniorenraad Genk, a channel to improve communication between senior associations and related organisations; and “Le Fonds de l'expérience profesionnelle”, a service for adapting and improving employment possibilities and conditions.
In a round table with representatives of regions and cities some of the political initiatives related to active ageing in Belgium were discussed. The audience asked about topics such as pensions, the importance of senior citizen's associations and how to define an “older person”.
Participants also had the opportunity to visit the Stakeholders Marketplace, where a dozen of associations contributing to the European Year’s objectives presented their activities and exchanged ideas in a stimulating and informal ambiance.
A press conference was held by Koos Richelle, Director General, DG Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion in the European Commission; Monica De Coninck, Minister of Employment, and Philippe Courard, Secretary of State of Social Affairs, Family and Disabled Persons, in charge of occupational risks.
Mr. Richelle emphazised "We don't have to fear population ageing if we succeed in ensuring a better health status of older people, creating more opportunities for older workers, allowing older people to remain active members in society and create an age-friendly environment where growing old need not mean to become dependent on others."
The event served also as the official presentation of the Belgian website dedicated to the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations 2012, with up-to-date information on the events organised at national, regional and local level throughout the year. The online site can be visited at www.beactive2012.be
Pictures of the event are available here.