LINGLE – Much like the technology it represents, a program in which students teach senior citizens how to use their smartphones and other electronic devices has exploded in popularity. Beginning in Lingle last year, the concept featured collaboration between Future Business Leaders of America and Student Council members, AARP’s Torrington Group, Bill Marsh, Torrington Rotary Club, and senior centers in the county.
“We are doing this to help spread awareness and prevention of Alzheimer’s and Dementia across the county, and because of the students working on this, we have inspired other high schools across the state to do the same,” Lingle-Fort Laramie FBLA Advisor and business teacher Kara Hill said. “Because of these determined and caring FBLA kiddos, this program has been a success.”
Tom Lacock, Associate State Director, Communications/State Advocacy at AARP Wyoming, said Cheyenne is now routinely hosting senior technology tutoring sessions, thanks to partnerships with AARP, Interact classes from Cheyenne Triumph and Cheyenne East High School, as well as the Cheyenne East Air Force Jr. ROTC.
In addition, AARP recently put out a call to senior centers statewide to determine if the groups would like assistance finding student service organizations in their areas, and 12 centers responded in the affirmative.
“We have had the success with this event, but the fact is none of this would have been possible without the Student Council and FBLA chapters at (L-FL) proving the concept that Torrington’s Bill Marsh brought forward,” Lacock told the Telegram. “This program is evolving in small ways, but we still take the lessons we learned in Goshen County last year into every event we do. Without the work of the Doggers, there is no way we would have seen this type of growth or interest in the program. I also think the Goshen County Senior Friendship Centers deserve credit for opening their doors to something new.”
A few of the L-FL FBLA students who participated in the initial event spoke to the program’s merits recently, not just for the seniors involved, but also the benefits they’ve experienced personally.
“It’s a great experience for just us and the senior centers we’ve gone to,” Bridgett Lowther said. “We’ve met a lot of people, and they’re really open to having our help … a lot of them don’t have help like this, and they all really appreciate us coming down there and helping them.”
“They need help because most of them have smart phones to communicate with family, and they can’t figure out how,” Jenna Kaufman explained. “We have lots of regulars that come in – we like having regular communication with them outside of tutoring.”
Cora Frederick said she believes the community service is extremely impactful.
“It’s really easy to see the benefit and impact on their lives – they are so thankful to us. They really love to sit down and talk with us. I’m thankful we have the opportunity to have this experience.”
Jackson Gregory spoke to the practicality of the program.
“I thought it was pretty useful,” he said. “I guess nowadays technology is everywhere. It is really great to teach more people to use technology.”
“It just gets our community closer together,” Rayden Alonzo said. “It gets the youth and the elderly together to sit down and actually talk. A lot of their family usually lives far away, and we kind of step in as that friendly neighbor when they just want to talk to someone.”
Hunter Hatten echoed the remarks of many of his peers, adding technology is something the younger generation may take for granted.
“I think it’s just a really good way to connect with older generations,” he said. “Technology is something we take for granted every day … (senior citizens) didn’t grow up with it. It’s just a good opportunity to teach them what we know.”
The program is expanding locally, as well. Last week, Hill announced L-FL is joining forces with Eastern Wyoming College, which will offer its own senior technology tutoring dates with college students.
L-FL will host additional senior technology tutoring dates in the near future. This information will be released as it becomes available.
“There is such great value for both students and seniors when they have this sort of intergenerational experience,” Marsh, who is affiliated with both AARP and Torrington Rotary Club Satellite Group for Alzheimer’s and Dementia awareness, said in a past press release. “Hopefully this engaging activity will enhance the quality of life for the tutors and