As a staff member of Linkages, I've had many opportunities to work closely with seniors in the community and through a number of different programs. One of my favourite, and one of Linkages’ most popular programs, is called Digital Connections. Digital Connections is based on bringing together youth and seniors to learn about technology, whether that be on tablets, smart phones, or the senior’s new laptop their grandchildren bought for them (and have yet to teach them to use).
My experience in this program has been, and continues to be, enriching. I have been humbled by the knowledge and willingness to learn of the individuals who attend and I’ve learned to never expect one session to be like any other. It is a perfect showcase of how prejudice and stereotypes may lead us to believe that seniors do not want to learn new things or are stuck in their old ways, when in fact the seniors who come to Digital Connections are excited to learn about technology and how it can enhance their lives. Seniors can be and want to be tech-savvy!
I once had the chance to work with a senior who wanted to learn how to use Skype so he could catch up with some friends who now live far away. We set him up with a Skype account and I watched his delight as we practiced skyping each other from across the room. Another senior came to get help inputting contacts from her address book (and yes I mean an actual book with paper) into her cell phone. One of the youth volunteers was able to sit with her and show her how to program all of the contacts so she would no longer need to bring her book everywhere she went. The senior was practically in tears to learn she could now keep her address book safely at home and that her cell phone could be of more use than just a clock!
Every session is filled with stories like the couple I shared and we hope to continue the enthusiasm for Digital Connections. If you would like more information about the program or would like to be a youth volunteer contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org