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Silver Surfers: College students help seniors catch the techie wave
Okanagan College Media Release

Silver Surfers and Daniel Alfred Apr 2016In today’s fast-paced digital age, catching up to the latest technology gadget can seem insurmountable for seniors.

Helping bridge the technology age-gap, twins Daniel and Rebecca Alfred and Sam Jamieson, all Enactus Okanagan College students, have stepped up to connect 28 Missionwood Retirement Resort residents with 15 student volunteers for hands-on tablet tutorials throughout the month of March.

Over the course of four sessions the Silver Surfers project covered the basics of how to use an iPad from turning it on, adjusting volume controls, taking pictures, FaceTiming with family, and how to post, like and comment on Facebook.

“Working part-time at Missionwood, I’d see family members give the gift of a tablet to their grandparent, but without showing them how to use it,” says Daniel Alfred, now in his third year of a Bachelor of Business Administration degree at Okanagan College. “I’d help where I could, but I knew more could be done. That sparked the idea of Silver Surfers.”

He points out that research has shown that many seniors face depression and isolation. Silver Surfers was developed with the goal of helping them reconnect with their loved ones by using the very technology they were being gifted to alleviate these feelings.

First lesson: taking a selfie.Silver Surfers Apr 2016

“It was a great ice-breaker with the volunteers, and was quite fun to see these individuals, many over 70 years young, discover the phenomenon of the selfie,” adds Alfred. “It was incredible to see the relationships forming, and the true connections.”

“I enjoyed the students so much,” echoes resident Lois Patterson. “They were very kind, helpful, and patient with us seniors.”

Complementing the hands-on learning experience, the three business students designed an illustrative booklet with step-by-step instructions to help refresh the memory of the tablet users ongoing.

TELUS Kelowna generously loaned five 3G enabled iPads to the cause, and has committed to doing so again as the program expands to other residences. The project is also branching out across the region after Enactus Okanagan College at the Salmon Arm campus expressed interest in launching Silver Surfers at a seniors’ residence in the community.