Volunteers for Community Impact (VCI) held a recognition breakfast on December 1 to acknowledge the many volunteers and participants who have been part of the Cyber Seniors program since its launch earlier this year. This multi-week program uses volunteer mentors of all ages to teach older adults how to use and take advantage of technology. The program, funded through a Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) grant has attracted 81 older adults (average age of 76) and 67 mentors (average age of 26) to date.
Information gathered pre-program indicates that 41% of the older adult participants had never connected with family and friends electronically, and 66% had never sent an e-mail before. Post-program information shows that 79% of older adults now use their computer or tablet at least weekly and 47% send e-mail on at least a weekly basis. More importantly, 96% of older adults reported they felt their life has improved by using technology.
In addition to bridging the digital divide and helping seniors stay connected with family and friends, this program is bridging the generational divide. Cyber Seniors participant Ethylee (age 85) and mentor Nicole (age 23) shared a passion for reading. After a Cyber Seniors session, the two went to Ethylee’s home so she could share her book collection with Nicole. Ethylee proudly refers to Nicole as her grandgirl stating she has a grandson and has always wanted a granddaughter. Now she has Nicole.
In addition to support provided by WPHF, AARP Florida and United Healthcare have made financial contributions to support expansion of the program. “VCI has done an amazing job with this program. There is no doubt Cyber Seniors is meeting a clear need and forging new relationships while teaching older adults technology,” said Diana Silvey, WPHF Program Director. For more information on this program, contact VCI.