Senior citizens and teenagers are making important connections thanks to a new program being offered at Spruce View School. Tech Time for Seniors, regularly offered by Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) in Red Deer County was altered slightly - to include youth as the technology mentors for seniors, rather than adult volunteers from the community.
“We operate Tech Time for seniors in a number of locations, to provide residents living in rural areas with access to technology, by supporting their learning about it,” said Kevin Velthuis Kroeze, an FCSS worker with Red Deer County. “When we approached Spruce View School, we were thinking that youth would be really good mentors for seniors, and that by involving youth in this program, we would build intergenerational relationships that would benefit not just the seniors but the youth as well. So far it’s going really well. We have an amazing group of volunteers.”
“When Kevin approached us, we could immediately see this would be a great fit with our school values of: ‘pride in self, pride in others and pride in community’,” said Scott Stefanek, Vice Principal, Spruce View School. The chance to volunteer is currently offered to Grade 8 to 12 students at the school. There are 16 students who have participated so far, which is almost 20 per cent of the school’s population in those grades. About 15 to 20 seniors have attended including a handful that have come each time. The group began meeting in September 2023 each month, with three meetings to date.
“We’re pleased with how well this is going,” said Stefanek. “The best form of feedback is the smiles that are on the seniors’ and students' faces. Also, when you listen to them talk, you’ll hear conversations that may start out focused on technology but drift into other topics too. It’s amazing to watch the positive connections happening.”
“It makes me feel amazing,” said Jake Buhler, Grade 8 student at Spruce View School. “I was surprised by how many seniors might not know things about their cell phone. I also know they need it for calling their family and grandchildren, so it makes me feel good to help. It has also helped me become more confident talking with people, and it helps me feel welcome at school.”
“It has been excellent,” said Jean Kaiser, a Spruce View area resident and senior. “I usually bring a list of questions that I’ve written down over the month and I get lots of answers here. The kids have been great. They are patient and they aren’t judgemental. I think it’s good for them to see seniors are smart and can learn, and it’s good for students to volunteer. It gives seniors a better perspective about students. There are good kids coming up - and that’s a good feeling.”
**with information provided by Chinook's Edge School Division