Connecting Princeton Seniors Through Technology

Jean and Frank Turner, Joe Compart, Rudy Fernak, Judy Short and John Sandness are seniors. They have all retired from successful careers. Jean was a nurse, John was a teacher and Judy owned her own business. They are all seniors who felt like they were being left behind as information technology became necessary for their everyday lives.

All of these seniors could see the gap growing between their younger family members and themselves. They were feeling more physically isolated as they became less able-bodied. They were also feeling out of touch, technologically. If they could just catch on to some of this information technology – but it was changing so fast. This made them anxious. They wanted to learn to enrich their lives, but where could they even begin? Where could they find a safe and pressure-free environment where they could learn to use laptops, smart phones, Skype, email and the internet?

Through word of mouth, from surveys, and from community pamphlets; Jean, Frank, John, Rudy, Joe, and Judy found their way to Princeton Leaders for Literacy. Here they went from feeling isolated to feeling connected. It was here where they learned how to search for their genealogy, how to order gifts and necessities, how to email, how to document information and file it, how to Skype.

Because of the help from Princeton Leaders in Literacy, these seniors are communicating more frequently with family and friends, making new friends, mentoring others, joining volunteer groups, banking on-line, keeping their minds sharp,  and gaining back their independence.

It’s said best through their own words:

“Understanding the terminology, the computer language, has been really important for me,” said Judy Short.  Judy has more computer experience than some of the other seniors in the course and has been helping out.

“We are a group born before the Second World War,” stated Frank Turner.  “We kind of lost out.  The TV was new, radio was new, telephone was new… Jean (his wife) didn’t know how to use a phone until after graduating from high school.  When she went to do her nurses training at eighteen, it was the first time she used a phone.  Now internet is our “new,” but we never got to grips with it, so we are just learning now.

Joe Compart moved to Canada from Germany in 1954.  “I am a good Canadian,” he said. “I moved here by choice.  For me it is my mind starting to expand and I am improving my English comprehension. Spellcheck has been great. My typing has improved.”

Student Rudy Fernac added, “If you can keep your mind going, you might have a chance to keep from getting Alzheimers.  Staying young is not just about exercising the body, it is about exercising the mind. I am learning and it makes me feel good.”

“This kind of computer course is absolutely essential for the elderly and older,” Jean Turner adamantly stated. “Most of us do not have computer education and cannot communicate electronically. Many of us are approaching the “house-bound” years and electronic communication will be our lifeline and window to the world. It’s not just about using a computer. I learned I can Skype, order groceries, email, do research, talk to friends and family, save and share photos and documents and all of it is part of being connected. Seniors can feel very isolated as they age and become less able-bodied. Learning how to use a computer is making a huge difference for us and we are really happy courses like this one are out there for us.”

Senior student John Sandness agreed. “I liked the cookies and coffee. I liked the friendships I made and we have a lot of fun. My wife is really good on the computer and this is my self-defence,” he joked. “I like to look up things about the outdoors and right now I am looking up my family’s history. I have learned how to peck and hunt for keys better and that computers are a marvellous machine.  We can go anywhere with them and they keep our brains working.”

This is just one of many literacy success stories that the people in Princeton could tell you. Princeton Leaders for Literacy, in partnership with other organizations, find or create programs to meet the literacy needs in their community. They help close the literacy gaps wherever they exist, for all age groups.  The people in Princeton come looking for knowledge and they leave with newly-developed skills.

As non-profit organizations, community-based literacy programs rely on your generosity to support literacy and learning initiatives in British Columbia.

Make a difference in your community. Please donate today.

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