Have you heard about the ‘Cyber Seniors’ program before? It was piloted in 2009 in Toronto by two high school students and, since then, has become a movement. What is it about? The program is designed to match a student volunteer with a senior to help them navigate the ever-changing, complex world of technology and the internet.
We are so thrilled to have our ‘Cyber Seniors’ program back in action here at The Cridge Village Seniors’ Centre after a two years hiatus during the pandemic. It all started in September when we reached out to a few local high schools and invited them to participate. And we were overwhelmed by responses from both students and our seniors!
Every Tuesday, students travel to The Cridge Seniors’ Centre after school to meet with their assigned seniors and spend an hour helping them with weekly tasks. Through their time together, seniors and students get to explore various interests and topics with each other. For example, June and Sally watch YouTube videos about art and culture during their time together. They also bonded over their mutual love of photography.
The pandemic showed us the importance of staying connected, and technology is here to help. The ‘Cyber Seniors’ program helps facilitate that. Not only does it allow seniors to feel more confident when using technology to book doctors’ appointments or Skype with their families, but it also builds relationships between generations that are less likely to interact in real life. Our seniors are in their seventies to nineties, and students get to hear the life stories, experiences, and social customs of someone more than 50 years older than they are. Relationships between generations are the important link that allows for knowledge and experiences to be passed down, and our weekly program helps this to happen. Our seniors have been so thrilled to have these weekly meet-ups, and our committed volunteers bring a lot of enthusiasm and joy. In many cases, this is the first time for students to be in a ‘teaching’ role, and for our seniors, this could be the first in many years since being a student.
Our Cyber Seniors’ teachers have filled our Seniors’ Village with laughter, stories, and new ideas. It has been a pleasure getting this program up and running again, and we are looking forward to continuing to make memories with our students heading into the New Year.
Rebecah Burrage, The Cridge Village Seniors’ Recreation Coordinator