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Digital literacy program
forges intergenerational bonds

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Stephanie Buckland, Chief Executive Officer

The speed of technological innovation can make us all feel like we’re falling behind these days. Imagine if you grew up in a world where the internet, smart phones, and social media didn’t exist, and now you must grapple with technology as part of everyday life? A lack of digital skills can be isolating and can further exacerbate the feeling of being disconnected from your community.

This is a challenge faced by many residents in Amana Living residential care centres and villages. This is why we have been committed to helping residents improve their digital literacy by introducing computer kiosks and running training sessions to help build their skills and confidence in using technology.

A key component of our digital literacy program has been to tap into the power of intergenerational learning. Through our GenConnect initiative, we’ve partnered with Anglican secondary schools to teach digital skills to seniors, with the ultimate objective of promoting social connections and independence among older people.

In GenConnect, the students become the teachers and are partnered with participating residents who set their own technology learning goals. Over the course of six one-hour sessions, the students cover various topics, including smartphone and tablet internet navigation, email usage, and social media engagement.

Residents taking part have expressed great enthusiasm for learning in a stress-free and inclusive environment, relishing the opportunity to connect with a younger generation. They particularly appreciate the social aspect of the tuition, citing it as one of the most beneficial aspects of the program.

The students benefit significantly from their participation in the classes too. Sharing their own skills and knowledge has boosted their self-esteem, and witnessing the growing confidence of older individuals in using technology has been rewarding for them. The opportunity to practice empathy, patience and instruction also builds skills the students can take with them into the future.

GenConnect provides a unique opportunity for students to provide an essential service to Amana Living residents, helping them keep up with the ever-changing way the world operates. It’s also an opportunity for us to combat the loneliness and isolation experienced by many older people. Through the power of technology and intergenerational connections, we are fostering an inclusive environment where individuals can enhance their digital literacy, forge meaningful relationships, and thrive in today's connected world.

Images: Students from St Hilda's Anglican School for Girls supporting residents from Dorothy Genders Village in Amana Living's GenConnect program
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