In the fall of 2015, we learned what happens when you combine 20 seniors, 8 college gerontology students, their professor, 10 iPads and a host of other smartphones and tablets... a lot of learning all around!
Generation Connect partnered with White Rose Senior Center and York College of Pennsylvania on a project sponsored by the York County Community Foundation. The grant provided funding to purchase iPads, develop sensitivity training for mentors and lead intergenerational activities. The project is currently in its third semester and has expanded to other local senior centers.
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Over the last eight years mobile devices have transformed our culture: the worlds information and the most important people in your life are always within reach.
Most young people use technology instinctively. For others it's not only intimidating, but also concerning, especially in regards to how we communicate.
About how many text messages do you think you send a day?
Student 1 – I don't think anything outrageous, like 100 or something. Probably like 50...
Student 2 - Maybe like 100, in the hundreds.
Student 3 – Probably over 1000.
Older adult 1 - Fifteen.
So most of the people that you communicate with on a regular basis is in person?
Older adult 2 - Right!
Older adult 3 - In-person and phone calls.
Student 4 - When I go to classes, a lot of times we're all just on our phones, instead of talking to one another.
Older adult 4 - Why not talk to the people you're with?
Older adult 3 - A couple will be face-to-face with each other but their faces are down into one of these.
Gerontologist Dr. Mary Ligon - Yeah, maybe young people do need to put down their phones every now and then and really focus on the person that's right in front of them, but at the same time, younger people really appreciate it when older generations are willing to try something out and communicate with them in a way that they like to communicate.
Through the support of the Hahn Homes Embracing Aging fund of the York County Community Foundation, our start up Generation Connect teamed up with York College and Dr. Mary Ligon's gerontology students to bridge the gap.
We offered an eight week iPad training course to 20 members of the white rose senior center and white. But instead of focusing on the technical aspects of using an iPad, students were encouraged to connect with individuals personally and provide training based on their passions goals and needs.
Student 4 - They were pretty unique. Ann was all about looking stuff up on the iPad because she was a former librarian. Lydia on the other hand is very family oriented and she wanted to take pictures, and she was so proud that she took a selfie and she could show her granddaughter.
Student 1 - There is a long life that's behind them, and even though they face challenges with technology, once you get to know them, it's not impossible for them to learn something new.
Older adult 5 - Now, I am having a ball. Seriously, I've learned an awful lot!
Student 3 - I feel like I gained friends. She [my partner] was so open with me and she felt that trust with me from just meeting with me on Tuesdays for the past four months. I thought that was so great!
Older adult 1 - It's been a real blessing as far as talking with them, and communicating and connecting emotionally with them.
Older adult 6 - Loved it, loved it loved it. I feel like I can always learn something new from a younger person.
Student 3 - They gave some good advice. It's appreciating the wisdom that they have.
Older adult 1 - That's what the purpose of life is: the reach out to other people.
Older adult 4 - It certainly would be nice if we could continue on because there's a heck of a lot to learn.