Congrats, Grads! Recently, our Members at The Stratford graduated from the ‘Cyber Seniors’ program with the help of the students at University High School of Indiana and Mrs. Nila Nealy! This program was set in motion in November of 2015 when Member, Richard Conn brought the research to host this program to Social Director, Joe Green.
The idea for the Cyber-Seniors documentary came from a high school project that was launched by two sisters, Macaulee (16) and Kascha Cassaday (18) in 2009. The sisters had witnessed firsthand how learning to use the Internet had transformed their grandparents’ lives. After learning some basic skills, their grandparents were in touch several times a week by email, Facebook and Skype. The Internet was instrumental in keeping their family connected despite busy schedules and living in different cities. Inspired by this realization, the sisters started the Cyber-Seniors program to help other seniors get online.
Members at The Stratford were paired with students from University High School in Carmel, Indiana and were guided through learning the internet and the abundance of resources available on it from our young mentors. Our members were taught everything from Facebook to Ancestry.com and learned how to utilize the internet for their needs. Our members and students bonded during their time together and at the end of the program, we hosted a graduation. Our members wore robes to signify their commitment to lifelong learning and defying the status quo to learn something new.
Social Director, Joe Green gave the commencement speech at the Cyber Seniors Graduation:
“Our Cyber Seniors journey started in November of 2015 when Richard Conn brought the idea and information to me. He was giving a talk on connecting generations through technology to our residents when, in his research, he came across Cyber Seniors. Over the following year, Mr. Conn did countless hours of research and information collecting in order to present the program to our residents. In March of last year. Mr. Conn had a meeting with representatives from University High School and the program was born. We knew we wouldn’t be able to start until the fall with the new school year and sadly Mr. Conn passed away just weeks before the kick off. In one of our last times talking before he passed away, Mr. Conn said it was very important to him that we see to the success of this program. Because of this and the fact that he dedicated the last year of his life to seeing this through, we dedicate this program and its success to him.
Another Senior I would like to recognize is JoAnn Scully. She passed away just a few weeks ago. When I talked to her about this program her eyes lit up. She was quite fond of the boys that came to teach her and enjoyed the program immensely. Although these two are not physically here, we know that they walk among us yet today.
In the beginning of this program we paired a few students up with some senior citizens. My hope is that you took true advantage of this program and you now sit before me as more than that, possibly friends. The whole goal of this program is to bring two generations together to connect and we used technology as the tool to do that.
When I first met with the students last fall I posed a question. How old is old? Although I received several different answers ranging from 80-30. I proposed the idea to them that Old is a relative term, and that you are only old when you believe you are old. I know it may seem foolish and childish for you to be wearing graduation robes today, but you earned them. As we age it gets harder to change and adopt new thing into our lives.
Seniors, when you accepted the invitation to this program you defied the status quo and went outside your normal behavior. You were not afraid to try something new. This is why you get to graduate today. Psychologically you are as young as anyone else in this room for it. Students, you set out on a daunting task to teach a generation that doesn’t typically know anything about technology. Yet, after watching that video and listening to your comments it is clear you connected in ways you didn’t expect. You yourselves learned valuable lessons in the time you had together. My hope is that you all will stay in touch after today and that bond that started with a computer click will end in a lifelong relationship.
Now without further ado. Seniors when your name is called will you please come up to receive your diploma. Students, when your name is called please come up and to receive your Certificate. I would like to thank University High School for partnering with The Stratford and especially Mrs. Nila Nealy, who organized the students and continued to update me on the progress. Without your help this would not have been possible, so thank you. I would like to thank all of you for volunteering for this program and making it a success. You have helped me fulfill a promise I made to a dear friend. Thank you. We will now let you eat and socialize the rest of the time. We will start by letting the table in the back go first. Thank you!”
To Learn more about Cyber Seniors, visit their website at: http://cyberseniorsdocumentary.com/
This program is dedicated to Richard Conn and JoAnnn Scully.