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Senior to Senior computer assistance program takes off

GETTING CONNECTED — Pictured, from left: Sharon Russell, Nils Wikman, SCENe Coordinator Virginia Krebs and National Honor Society President Abby Fornes. Photo by Dave DeLuca.

BY: Dave DeLuca | February 08, 2013

SPRINGVILLE — Springville Concord Elder Network Coordinator Virginia Krebs said that, with the modern technology wave taking the world by storm, a need has arisen for assistance to those who need help maneuvering the present day advancements.

When this dilemma caught Krebs’ attention, she thought about how the SCENe organization could help. SCENe is a community-based entity made up of volunteers who dedicates themselves to “promoting the empowerment of older people to age well, within our area,” according to Krebs.

The program’s mission statement said that SCENe “helps people age successfully, by coordinating services, identifying resources, offering educational and wellness programs, volunteer opportunities and advocating for aging in place options, in our community.”

The program targets senior citizens aged 50 and older and “helps them remain active, respected and vital members of the community.

SCENe is a non-profit, public organization that uses partnerships with others, to assist local senior citizens. This entity is supported by Healthy Community Alliance Inc., a non-profit rural health network; the Health Foundation of Western and Central New York and the town of Concord. It has also joined hands with local individuals and civic, business, community and faith-based institutions.

Krebs worked with SCENe volunteer Sharon Russell, who facilitates the organization’s Caregiver Support Group, to bring SCENe’s mission into the Springville-Griffith High School.

Krebs and Russell designed a course that matched area seniors with 17- and 18-year-old high seniors at Springville-GI. S-GI seniors who belong to the National Honor Society would teach those who were 50 and older how to use computer technology.

“SCENe has had many conversations with older adults, who recognize the importance of computer literacy, but feel technology has gotten too complex for them to catch up now,” Krebs said.

She said that computers have gotten easier to use and that social media, email and Skype® can connect area seniors to friends, children and grandchildren, when distance or busy schedules keep them apart. “For people who have mobility issues or no longer drive, secure Internet banking and shopping can help them remain independent,” she said. “Students have grown up with this technology. Students and older folks have a natural affinity for each other. This really is a perfect match.”

The classes will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 3 – 4 p.m., beginning Feb. 28.

S-GI business teacher Nils Wikman will administrate the classes, with the students’ doing much of the hands-on instruction. Classes will take place at the high school, in room 100.

A recent survey done by Generations on Line showed that 65 percent of senior citizens, 75 and older, do not own a computer. Krebs and Russell said that they believe that the Senior to Senior Program will give participants more confidence, when using technology.

“The immediate goal for many will be a comfort level with a computer,” Russell said. “From there, according to each individual’s goals, learning to use the computer for research, shopping and communicating with friends and family from the comfort of their own home [will be next on the agenda]. GI senior students’ teaching student area seniors is about more than computers. In a society where families are often distanced from each other, we can bring generations together relationally, to glean from and influence each other. The time structure is a good alternative, for those who rely on the van service and don’t want to go out at night.”

“SCENe is grateful for the support of Nils Wikman and Vince Vanderlip, our high school principal, who is innovative and open to new ideas,” Russell added. She is a class monitor, at the high school.

The first Senior to Senior class will be held on Feb. 28. To register, contact SCENe at 592-7599. For more information, call Krebs at 592-9885.

There is a class size limit of 22 people, so Krebs recommended acting soon, to register and ensure a spot.

“We hope that this student to senior activity is the just the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship between the Springville Griffith School community and SCENe volunteers,” Krebs added.

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