Who’s going to take part in a walkathon with ankle and knee pain? Chennai’s young-at-heart elders, of course! The inter-generational Walkathon that began near the Labour Statue on Marina beach was a rousing sight. Organised by HelpAge India to mark International Day of Older Persons, the event saw hundreds of elderly people leave the monotony of their old age homes, travel distances and walk together.
“I participated in the rally last year and was really happy to do it again. Many of us have pain in the leg and other weaknesses but we still like to walk the entire stretch. It is a great experience for us to be part of an event where elders are given such importance,” said K Chithra, the leader of a 12 member Self Help Group for the elderly that includes them in activities like candle making, vegetable vending, appalam making and so on. College and school students, volunteers from the elders helpline, members of mobile medical units of the HelpAge India and members from civil society participated in the rally.
P R Anbazhakan, Director, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka of HelpAge India said that the large majority of the calls were from elderly seeking help in finding a suitable old age home. “The other major portion of the calls is from people who have found elderly people abandoned on the streets. There is also a significant number calling for legal help in property disputes.” he said.
The event was flagged off by the Inspector General of Police (Head Quarters), Shakeel Akhtar, who said, “India has a great tradition of respecting the elderly and we must strive to uphold this tradition.” He also praised the efforts of the elders helpline that has forged a link between the police department and distressed senior citizens. A Tamil version of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act (2007) was released for the benefit of the elderly.