It’s obvious from the way Donna places her hands on the keyboard that she’s typed before, in her working life. Donna is a resident at Cedarvale Lodge Retirement and Care Community in Keswick Ontario, and is learning how to send an email to her granddaughter. She inserts “send me some photos!” in the subject line as Kaylin, Donna’s student mentor, sits in close to guide her.
Cedarvale Lodge has partnered with Keswick High School to launch the innovative Cyber-Seniors program in their first home. Student mentors from the school’s leadership program introduce residents to online communication tools such as email, Google, Facebook, Skype and YouTube.
The 80-year age gap between Bill and his mentor doesn’t bother him at all. He used to be able to touch-type in the army, but feels more competent on the iPad because there is less typing involved.
Bettie is looking at an article about Errol Flynn on the Vanity Fair website. Her student mentor Holly shows Bettie how to use the scroll wheel on the mouse, which she gets easily, along with the double-click that almost every other resident is having trouble with. “I don’t have a problem reading off the screen,” she says proudly. “My eyesight is very good.”
There are also additional benefits for seniors in accessing memories. When one of the residents found his childhood home on Google Maps, he found a nearby dance hall he used to go to, and spent the rest of the period talking about this time in his life.
Following the completion of the program, a graduation ceremony was held at Cedarvale Lodge. Residents wore the traditional academic cap and gown, and were accompanied by their mentors into a decorated graduation hall full of family and friends.