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Senior citizens in Got Talent styled show
Can you imagine seeing your 65-year-old grandmother strut her stuff down the runway or your young-at-heart grandfather teaching the youngsters how they should really “swag it out” on the catwalk?
Well, the Division of Aging within the Ministry of the People and Social Development has made this possible with the Seneiors’ Cultural Pageant. For the first time in T&T pageant history, there would be a televised senior citizens pageant, broadcasted live from the Capital Plaza (formerly the Crowne Plaza) today at 3pm.
Dr Jennifer Rouse, head of the Division of Aging said the idea for the pageant came from 22-year-old Afiya Hamilton, an On the Job Trainee (OJT).
“Afiya has a degree in communications and she is one of the two trainees who work at the division’s help desk. When she brought the idea to us, we immediately jumped at it because it was exactly the kind of thing we want to have if we are to continue developing meaningful activities for seniors,” Rouse explained.
She said the only other similar event was a Seniors' amateur talent show which took place in 2007. There were plans to make it an annual event but that has never happened. Rouse said the only other significant event takes place on International Day of the Elderly which is celebrated annually on October 1.
Rouse said the ministry received an overwhelming response from senior citizens once the event was advertised and after several rounds of auditions, 18 finalists were chosen—five women and 13 men, all over the age of 60. There are also three reserves.
There will be a range of different talents on show, from musicians and dancers to composers and poets. All contestants will be judged in three categories, formal, talent and the interview segment.
The winner will receive a return trip to Barbados for two courtesy Caribbean Airlines with expenses paid by the ministry. The contestant in second place will enjoy an all expenses paid trip to Grenada for two courtesy the ministry, and a breakfast for two at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad awaits the contestant who places third.
All the finalists will receive prizes, and additionally, special awards will be given for most unique talent, best formal wear, the oldest participant and the congeniality award, which will be chosen by the contestants.
The finalists also had a busy schedule leading up to the pageant. On Monday morning they began with an early breakfast at Cascadia Hotel in St Ann's, then it was off to a courtesy call at the Knowsley Building with President George Maxwell Richards before their final stop at the YMCA Senior activity Center on Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain.
Shuttling was provided by ELDAMO—the Elderly and Differently-Abled Mobile Shuttle Service, and all outings were filmed by CNC3, and will be be aired tonight.
Rouse said one of the initiatives of the National Policy on Aging is to develop programmes that will foster communication between the generations. “Much of this pageant has to do with bridging the gap between the elderly and our youth,” said Rouse.
“The minister has also suggested an arts and cultural mentorship programme which will engage talented seniors to mentor young people in our country's folk history, including the spoken word, dance, song and even literature,” said Rouse.
At tonight’s show, some young people from the Civilian Conservation Corps will be the make-up artists and stylists and the ushers will be drawn from the Pathfinders programme.
The Senior Citizens Pageant will now be an annual event. However, on a much wider scale. She explained: “This event is not any flippant thing. It will indeed have a multiplier effect, therefore the Minister has suggested we engage the various regions including Tobago to be part of the now annual show, this way we have a much wider reach.”
According to her the ministry has already begun work on this development and the pageant is just one of the first events to mark the start.
The first two hours of the Seniors Cultural Pageant will be carried live on CNMG and 91.1FM tonight, with a rebroadcast (edited version) on January 26.
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