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The European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations was officially launched in Malta on April 13th at an event held in Żejtun with the participation of Charmaine Gauci, chair of the National Committee for the European Year 2012; Mario Galea, Parliamentary Secretary for the Elderly and Community Care, and Martin Bugelli, Head of European Commission Representation in Malta.
Organised by the Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations Committee at the Juventutis Domus community centre, the key note speech was delivered by Mario Galea, who stressed the importance of changing stereotypes about seniors and getting old. “Accumulating years is not a disgrace”, he said, recalling that the wrinkles on the face of an old citizen are the story of a human being, the story of a family, of a village and a nation. Wrinkles, said Galea, represent the knowledge that passes down from one generation to another.
In his speech, Galea highlighted that the elderly have made a great leap forward and they are a vibrant part of the community, using technology and reading news from the internet as any young citizen does. “Reaching pension age does not imply exile from society.”
The event included several short presentations by experts on the benefits of the employment of elders, volunteering, intergenerational solidarity and healthy ageing, some of the main topics of the EY 2012.
The Maltese National Ambassadors for the European Year also participated in the ceremony, sharing their impressions and experiences with the audience during a series of live interviews with the popular television journalist Antonia Micallef.
The Intergenerational Traditional Maltese Band accompanied the festive event, where there was also an area with stands providing useful information for senior citizens on topics such as employment, health and volunteering. .
A video about the European Year produced by the European Commission Representation in Malta was shown for the first time during the launch ceremony in Żejtun. The short documentary contains testimonials from the National Ambassadors, some of them celebrities such as children's books writer Trevor Zahra.
Pictures of the event are available here.