17 September 2015

Agir Award goes to three projects that promote active ageing

Initiatives from Lisbon, Ribeira de Fráguas and Vila Nova de Famalicão receive awards

The project 'Trupe Sénior' (Senior Troupe), submitted by the Colectividade Cultural e Recreativa de Sta. Catarina (Chapitô) in Lisbon, was the winning entry in REN's second annual AGIR awards, an initiative created to support projects aimed at social problems. The theme of this year's AGIR Award was active ageing. A total of 171 projects were submitted from all over the country.

The winning project provides for the creation of a 'Senior Troupe' - senior citizens who will form cultural and social entertainment groups designed to encourage interaction between the young and the elderly and foster cohesion in the community. Senior citizens will be included, under this programme, in performance workshops led by youths at risk of social exclusion. The Senior Troupe will be made up of elderly persons and young performing artists who are in court-ordered juvenile education centres or who have gone through social integration programmes at the Chapitô school. After the workshops, they will be mobilised to lead sociocultural and recreational activities in their home communities, which will also contribute to the senior citizens' own active ageing.

Teresa Ricou, chair of the board of Chapitô, underscored that 'the subject of ageing is a minefield of stereotypes and images that affect both those who are going through the ageing process and the structures geared towards responding to the needs of these individuals. Any innovative intervention in this context must, for this reason, call on strategic principles capable of changing the prevailing thinking and procedures. The Senior Troupe project fosters a new way of looking at the elderly based on the principle of positive differentiation and viewing the elderly not as a social class 'bereft of possibilities' but rather people with knowledge, skills, desires, visions and tools to change the world.'

Second place went to Cediara, in Albergaria-a-Velha

The AGIR Award for second place went to the project 'Idade XXL', submitted by CEDIARA - Day Centres for the Elderly, in Ribeira de Fráguas (Albergaria a Velha, Aveiro). This project promotes active ageing through programmes that focus on interaction between generations, community intervention and social inclusion in order to take advantage of the knowledge elderly people have by placing it at the service of the community and encouraging closer interaction and sharing between the different generations. It is divided into three sub-projects: 'Generations with Life', 'Fulfilling Dreams' and 'Wise Men and Women'. The project provides for partnerships between various teaching establishments, prisons, institutions that provide support to the elderly and other entities of a community and social nature. Some of the various activities included in the project are: exchange of correspondence between the elderly and children, classes on history and civic education given by senior citizens in schools and prisons, community activities involving the singing group and theatre group and entertainment for dependent and/or isolated users of the day centres.

'Idade XXL' aims to be an example of good practice in successful ageing, helping change the way people view the role of the elderly in society by focusing on the benefits of strengthening and recognising the abilities of this group.

Susana Henriques, technical director of Cediara recognises that 'with an ever ageing society, it is vital that we come up with effective models to enable quality in ageing'. The director of the institution, which is located in the municipality of Albergaria a Velha, stated that Cediara has 'strived to be a model of good practices in active ageing by carrying out various projects and specialised activities that focus on building the skills of our users and improving their quality of life. We intend to contribute through the Idade XXL project to making active ageing more than just a goal, but a reality, she added.

Third place went to the project 'Envelhecimento + Ativo' in Famalição

Third place went to 'Envelhecimento +Ativo' (+ Active Ageing), submitted by Engenho - Associação de Desenvolvimento Local do Vale do Este, in Vila Nova de Famalicão. This project is designed to foster active ageing through activities that promote cognitive and sensory stimulation (raised garden beds for growing flowers and vegetables for people with reduced mobility, physical therapy room, snoezelen room and memory room). The activities are conducted in Engenho's new care home, called 'A Minha Casa', which opened its doors in November 2014. The facility is set up for 152 day centre users, as well as offering home care services and residential care for elderly members of the association, primarily persons with dementia and/or reduced mobility. The project provides for participation of children and youth in activities that promote solidarity and dialogue between generations as well as workshops on dementia in the elderly for formal and informal carers.

Manuel Araújo, chair of the board of Engenho, highlighted that, 'in addition to promoting autonomy in elderly persons, the project aims to tap into the sense of identity our local communities have, of ties to the land and rural culture, by gathering and sharing images and stories about the lives of elderly members of our community in an intergenerational context of mutual learning. He then went on to say that the AGIR Award is 'more than just recognition of the social development work we do in a region that is particularly disadvantaged, it is a force that inspires us to do more for our elderly and do it better and more innovatively'.

The AGIR Award is, for Rodrigo Costa, Chairman and CEO of REN, a project that reflects REN's commitment to active citizenship. The award was created to encourage and support activities that offer concrete answers to the social problems we choose to address. Last year it was dedicated to job creation, and the three projects chosen to receive the award made a significant social impact. The topic chosen this year was active ageing, and we believe that the award-winning initiatives will lead to positive transformation in the communities they cover and serve as a model for other communities'.

About the AGIR Award

The AGIR Award fits in with REN's policy of community involvement and social innovation. Every year the AGIR Award chooses an area of social intervention and selects three winning projects. In 2014, the first year of the initiative, the focus was on stimulating job creation.

This year, REN, in partnership with the Bolsa de Valores Sociais - BVS (Social Stock Exchange), selected the three best projects from a total of around 171 candidates.

The AGIR Award is directed at not-for-profit associations, companies and organisations. The project awarded first prize receives €30,000, with the second-place winner receiving €15,000 and the third-placed winner receiving €5,000.


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