Sint Maarten Seniors to Get Bocce Ball Courts

Sint Maarten’s senior citizens will soon have two new bocce ball courts that will offer them a place for some low impact exercise in a friendly social environment. Funded by the Integrated Neighborhood Development Program (INDP) through USONA, the two new courts will be located at the SXM Senior Citizens Recreational Foundation center in Hope Estate and The St. Martin’s Home in St. John’s. Marva van Heyningen of the Senior Citizens Recreational Foundation, the INDP’s NGO partner in the construction of the courts, commented that the addition of the court will now provide an outdoor activity alongside the regular indoor social events of the recreational center. "Our senior citizens will certainly enjoy the opportunity to be outside and get some exercise. Bocce ball is not a sport that requires strenuous exercise and is a perfect match for our seniors."


The INDP’s support of activities that promote recreation and exercise for the elderly is a direct response to recommendations in its Neighborhood Needs Assessment and comes at a time when the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor recently released the results of its survey on the situation of the elderly. Minister Cornelius de Weever stated, "On behalf of my ministry, this is one more response of many we will implement to improve the lives of our seniors. We sometimes forget that exercise provides positive benefits for all ages and our seniors should also be given facilities that can encourage them to come out for fun competition with their friends." Minister de Weever’s sentiments were supported by Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams. She stated that the new bocce ball courts were "another example of putting words into action. The DP ministers have consistently promoted social development that targets the youth and the elderly. Needless to say that, I underscore and endorse any activity that promotes physical activity, as movement is a key factor of good health." Additional support and continuity will also come from the executing agency Community Development, Family and Humanitarian Affairs (CDFHA). The bocce ball court in Hope Estate will be included in CDFHA’s intergenerational program to provide opportunities for positive interaction between the elderly and young people. This program will start with youth from Genevieve de Weever School and then expand and include other youth to sign up for the program. The Gaston Boasman Help Desk for the Elderly and Disabled in Hope Estate is also located near one of the courts and can offer coordination for such events as friendly matches with senior citizens from French St Martin.