May 20, 2021 News

This fall, the UNA will be launching a project called Bridging Digital Literacy and Healthy Ageing. This new project builds upon the Healthy Seniors, Resilient Community project and will continue to build seniors’ digital capacity and increase their confidence in using technology and virtual applications. It will also explore opportunities, both traditional and digital, to enhance seniors’ physical and mental health, and social connections. The UNA is currently looking for community feedback and comments on this new project.

Sam Shahin, who was hired last July as a computer specialist for seniors for the Healthy Seniors, Resilient Community project, has worked with over 50 seniors through one-on-one computer assistance and group sessions. The services he provided included training on the basics of computer hardware and operating systems, the use of video conferencing software (Zoom), online security of data and devices, and how to avoid online scams. Some of the most rewarding parts of his work have been seeing his students reconnect with their friends and family members virtually, seeing them successfully navigate and complete online orders and seeing them successfully change a printer cartridge. In general, it seems, seniors who have participated in Sam’s training sessions are more confident and less fearful of using their computers.

According to Sam, the members of our community that make use of our computer support can be classified into two categories:

  • Those who have a basic level of knowledge need a continuous learning process that combines theoretical and practical learning. Weekly classes where they can come on a regular basis to learn, take notes and practice might best serve their needs.
  • Those who are intermediate users come to Sam when they have specific technology problems. One-on-one help best serves their needs. In the past eight months, Sam has worked with UBC staff and faculty, retired residents and immigrant seniors.

Seniors have not been the only group that has benefitted from the Healthy Seniors, Resilient Community project. A more digitally fluent audience means that staff have also greatly benefited from having the opportunity to develop virtual programs. This outcome has not only been limited to creating virtual programs that support seniors’ immediate needs during the pandemic, but also is expanding the UNA’s virtual program offerings in general. Currently, our virtual programs have expanded from language and computer literacy to physical activities, arts, and social events, accounting for 20% of our regular programs.

Despite the increased online engagement, seniors still enjoy the physical space of community centres , in-person activities and face-to-face interactions with others. The Bridging Digital Literacy and Healthy Ageing project will explore creative and safe ways to provide both opportunities that accommodate seniors with different needs, health conditions and mobility levels. Additionally, UNA staff would like to gain more understanding of how in-person and virtual programs impact the quality of life of seniors and how the two can dovetail to improve seniors’ social connections.

Funding for both projects come from the New Horizons Seniors Program (NHSP). This is the third grant funding that the UNA has received from NHSP since 2018 and it has topped-up the total grant money for our seniors’ programs to $58,091.
The Bridging Digital Literacy and Healthy Ageing project will roll out in the Fall of 2021, however, the planning process will begin in May.

Feedback

The UNA is always looking for ways to improve our services and program offerings. If you have suggestions or comments for the Bridging Digital Literacy and Healthy Aging project, please email us at programs@myuna.ca.

Testimonials

  • “I have been busy teaching ESL virtually and have been enjoying it immensely!! The technology still is interesting/challenging. Thank goodness you assisted me so much when I was just beginning this whole new virtual challenge! I really appreciated your kind, generous, thoughtful help!”
  • “I am so thankful for all programs available to us. We are so privileged, making this COVID era so much lighter to endure.”
  • “He (Sam) conveys patience, knowledge and understanding in his teaching. It is an excellent community service which I commend the UNA for providing to me and the community. I recommend Sam and his service in the highest regard.”
  • “[Osteofit] is a wonderful class and much appreciated!”
  • “I found the [Fabric Art: Shibori and Printing] class to be an enjoyable and invaluable learning experience. In particular, Mariana is an excellent art instructor and is to be commended for going ‘above and beyond’ in delivering the course on Zoom.”

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