This year, Renewed Computer Technology (RCT) partnered with Cyber-Senoirs and the Senior’s Computer Lab Project to help deliver computer skills training for seniors at various locations across the region.  RCT’s Computer for Schools+ (CFS+) program supported the creation of 6 labs by distributing computers to each location while also distributing over 100 laptops to seniors in Niagara Regional Housing locations.

Training for seniors is now provided online with one-on-one instruction and daily webinar classes with youth mentors, all held on a virtual platform during the pandemic through the Cyber-Seniors partnership.  For many of the seniors at these Niagara locations, access to computer resources has traditionally been very limited.

RCT’s computers helped to create a learning environment for the seniors and youth involved and made it possible for many individuals to own their own laptop or desktop computer, items which used to be financially out of reach for many.  The Cyber Seniors’ youth mentors also had the added benefit of learning job skills through the Cyber-Seniors Mentor Training Program, a certificate program which helped them with their career goals while also helping seniors become more comfortable using their devices.

This reverse mentoring program not only individualizes the learning process for the seniors with their devices, but it also expands community engagement through a mutual learning relationship from the friendship and exchange of knowledge that results. RCT’s computers are also being used by the seniors to connect to their families/surrounding community and for online social activities such as online “movie nights”, community meets and “trivia nights” via Zoom.

Seniors use their laptops to take part in webinars and presentations as learning opportunities as well as to find and use resources, many of which are only available online.

“The ability for seniors to own their own devices has been life changing as these computers provide a link to many free resources and access to online services such as license renewal, online banking, and other government services that are inaccessible for those with limited mobility or transportation options.  The computers have been the key to improving their quality of life allowing them to connect to and be with friends and family especially during the isolation resulting from the pandemic.  They’ve made it possible for seniors to retain a sense of self-reliance and independence as their confidence grows along with their tech skill abilities” – Nancy Siciliana, Niagara Region Program Manager for Cyber-Seniors.