STRONGSVILLE, Ohio — It is not the usual crowd you see walking into the Strongsville Senior Center.
Sixth graders from Strongsville Middle School, located just down the way, are here to help seniors with their cell phones and tablets.
It is called TechKNOWledgy with Teens and it is a partnership between the middle school and the senior center.
The kids help the seniors with everything from making calls, texts, calendar additions, to emails, video chats and general phone settings. Anything the seniors have questions with the kids try to answer and more times than not they do, or the pair works together to resolve the problem.
Such as Strongsville student Jocelyn DeSiero, 11, and JoAnn Thomas, 85.
“Yes, I need help,” said Thomas about her cell phone. Adding that technology, “Moves so fast!”
Thomas keeps a busy social calendar and wants to be able to keep in touch with friends, family, and connected to digital communications about upcoming events.
“This is really nice,” she smiled while sitting next to DeSiero.
“It’s really important that everyone knows how to use their phone correctly,” said DeSiero. “Any one at any age can help anybody… it’s really nice to meet new people and do new things.”
During the 45 minutes or so, the pairs went from strangers to friends in no time — sharing knowledge and laughs.
This is the second TechKNOWledgy with Teens event at the Strongsville Senior Center. It’s held once a month. The first month was in January and there were eight people signed up.
In February, 28 seniors signed up. The word got out; the program is super popular and they’re having a ton of fun together.
“It’s the perfect flow,” said John Lipowski, sixth grade teacher at Strongsville Middle School.
Lipowski drives the van for the senior center during the summer and developed this idea with Sheena Wright, the senior services coordinator at the Strongsville Senior Center.
“I had a lady tell me that got more out of the last 45 minutes than she’s ever gotten,” said Wright.
They say the need to help seniors stay connected in an online world is critical. So too is the human connection this provides that we all need.
“I think these kids have stuff to offer the generation they’re here to help, and I think the generation that’s here has stuff to offer them,” said Lipowski. “I think that comes together to make a meaningful experience, more well-rounded relationships, and a cool thing in the community.”
“The kids keep you young,” smiled Bill Jenkins, 85.
While decades may divide them, the kids and the seniors show how old you are doesn’t define you.
“I owe helping older people and helping people out so this is a great match for me,” said Ethan Wolfe, Strongsville sixth grader.
And the program illustrates our value at every age to enrich each other’s lives when given the opportunity — like they are here.
It is something we’re programmed for, no instruction required.
This is something that can be replicated elsewhere. Lipowski and Wright encourage other schools to reach out to their local senior centers to see how they might be able to partner up.
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