Cape Town - As many governments in many countries around the world prioritise the well-being of senior citizens with social grants being the primary initiative, the government in Russia took a step further launching its Moscow Longevity Project to provide leisure activities for the elderly.
The Moscow Longevity Project was launched in March 2018 to show that the government values people over 50 and their free time, says Vladimir Fillippov, Moscow deputy head of Labour and Social Protection.
Speaking at the 3rd Forum of Social Innovations of the Regions, which saw 35 000 people gathered in the 75th pavilion of VDNH in Moscow last month, Fillippov said: “If we speak about the Moscow Longevity Project, for us it’s an essential thing that the government values people over 50 and their free time.
"Right now we have three million people older than 55 years and we have a great increase in life, so now the average length of life in Moscow is more than 78 years and will be even more in the future.”
Within the framework of the project, women and men 55 to 60 and older can attend single quality standard classes for mind and body health absolutely free of charge in all districts of Moscow within walking distance from their homes.
The project covers many areas such as information technology, English, general physical training, dancing, fitness, gymnastics, Nordic walking, arts and crafts and singing.
This year acting skills classes were started. All classes are held taking into account the age peculiarities of pensioners. About 160 000 elderly Muscovites are constantly engaged in the project.
More than 13 000 people are engaged simultaneously in three or more types of classes in the project. The project is most popular among participants aged 55-75 years. The majority of the participants are women at 87.1 percent of the total number.
“By 2030, we expect that in Moscow there will be more than 4 million people who are more than 55, 1 million more than what we are having now.
"We speak not only education and healthcare but we see the happiness of the people as a global denominator and how we develop it,” Fillippov said.
“We really value elderly people who are older than 55 years old and Moscow pays for their activities, we pay for them to attend classes in different directions. The aspect of the Longevity Project is that each Muscovite in each neighbourhood may attend classes with any frequency he or she likes.
"And at this pace, we stimulate the market for those providers who do some classes for those elderly people,” he said.
He said the government invests $50 million (more than R600 million) per year in the project. Each week the number of participants who attend the class grows by about two or more thousand people.
“By now we have about 160 000 people who do these activities. Each retired muscovite can sign up for these activities for free in any frequency they like,” said Fillippov.
During summer "Moscow longevity" activities are held in city parks. This year about 20,000 elderly Muscovites will be able to practice Scandinavian walking, English, drawing, singing, dancing, as well as acting skills in the fresh air.
In addition, more than 85 public events are planned for them.
There are special projects for elderly Muscovites. Under the initiative “Kind bus”, which is a free tour around Moscow and its surrounds, they visit the most significant sights.
Silver University which is a free educational programme for elderly people, allows them to get a new profession, and “Longevity training” (athletics\gymnastics under the supervision of doctors in special clinics).