Town Administrator Jonathan Butler, COA Director Erica Samson, Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, Sen. Benjamin Downing, class teacher Lou Yarter and Time Warner's Director of Government Relations John Mucha all spoke in praise of the students.
Adams Council On Aging Welcomes Elderly to Cyberspace
By Andy McKeever iBerkshires Staff 04:22PM / Friday, December 16, 2011
ADAMS, Mass. — Four months ago, some of the town's elderly citizens didn't even know how to turn a computer on.
Now, they are sharing photos and emails with family. They are looking up medications. They are on Skype. They are on Facebook.
On Friday, 16 citizens graduated from the Council on Aging's computer course and are reconnecting with family and friends that have since moved away.
"Many, many, many elders are separated from their families by distance. This is a way to put the connection between them," Lou Yarter, who taught the class, said. "We basically tried to fit a program to allow them to better communicate with their families."
The program began with Time Warner Cable installing an Internet connection to kick start the classes. Time Warner's Director of Government Relations John Mucha said the company donated the connection, which included installing the router and wiring. In return, the company asked the council to run the classes because senior citizens are often "afraid to go online," don't see the value in it or "don't have the skills."
"They've done a great job in utilizing [the connection]. That is the key," Mucha said.
The students ranged from 60 to 80 years young with a various range of computer knowledge. Student Laura Sunn, for example, only knew how to use Skype to talk with her family. Now, her family calls her with computer questions.
Mabel Sherman recalled the classes that started with turning the computer on and moved on from there.
"[Yarter] has shown a lot of endurance for us," Sherman said. "At first it was, 'let's turn on a computer' and we all went 'uh.'"
Then they moved onto logging in and when they progressed to searching the Internet for information, everybody's hand went up, she said. But to keep learning is exactly what they did
"Education is something that happens throughout the course of our lives," Town Administrator Jonathan Butler told the graduates. "What you've accomplished is impressive."
There to welcome the students into the cyberworld were state Sen. Benjamin Downing, D-Pittsfield, and state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, D-North Adams.
"You're going to serve as role models to other communities," Downing said and added that they can now join him on Facebook. "Everyone has a Facebook page. It's an incredible way to reconnect with people."
Cariddi complimented the town for its "progressiveness" in supporting the program.
"The town continues to impress me with the things that you do," Cariddi said.
The classes met for an hour once a week since mid-August. According to the council Director Erica Samson, the two classes aimed at research and -mail primarily but the next round will include programs such as Skype. The students have progressed from never touching a computer to now owning iPads.
"Advancements in technology is helping our population live happier and healthier lives," Mucha said.
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