The Cyber Seniors Program Gives Seniors Access to the Internet by Matching Them with High School Students

A celebration of the Cyber Seniors program that linked high school students and seniors at Governor Clinton Apartments to learn basic computer skills will took place on Tuesday, February 13th. Students were presented with certificates of achievement for their participation and seniors talked about what computer access meant to them.

 “I was terrified of this thing. And I was also embarrassed that someone was going to discover how stupid I was. Then this young lady came into my life. She is so patient, so kinds, and just goes after everything so slowly and at my pace. Now I’m actually looking for a job and I’m able to do it online” Said Marcia Wiseman about her experience with the Cyber Seniors program.

The Cyber Seniors program installed computers in the Community Room of Governor Clinton Apartment Complex and matched senior citizens with John A Coleman and Kingston High School students to educate residents about how to use the computers. Four computers, two printers, and software were donated by GE Elfun Computers and installed by John Dowley. Landmark Development Company donated the cable extensions and computer desks. Francesca Ortolano, the building manager for the Governor Clinton and Yosman Tower, lead discussion groups and initiated a computer club to encourage the use of and establish rules for the computers. The Cyber Seniors program was led by Elaine Habernig, a retired Kingston School District teacher, as part of Age Well, a subcommittee of the City of Kingston’s Live Well Kingston Commission. This program was started because a focus group revealed that 80% of seniors in the complex did not have access to the internet.

The program connected high school student volunteers to work one-on-one with the seniors to complete a basic curriculum about how to use the internet independently. Now, more than 20 seniors have access to and are able to use the internet to connect with long-distance family, research health issues, educate themselves on many topics, and have access to the world-wide-web.

“It was such a pleasure to meet each and every one of you. Not only was I able to impart some knowledge in you, but you each gave me more advice than I could ever ask for. It’s my hope that all of you have continued connecting with family or maybe taught yourself something new.” Said Isabelle Stitts-Frederick, a Student.

The group is currently duplicating the success they’ve had at Yosman Tower. Future plans include streaming the Ulster County Office for the Aging’s “Lunch and Learn” programs on the computers in the residential buildings for seniors who may not have transportation or the ability to make it to the offsite events.

The Age Well group focuses on and works to create a supportive environment that promotes active aging for seniors that includes the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social, intellectual, financial, professional and vocational dimensions of life. The Live Well Kingston Commission brings partners and residents together to facilitate policy, environmental, and systems changes that result in a healthy and active community.

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