Edmonton SeniorNet

seniorsBack in April, the Seniors Association of Greater Edmonton (Sage) invited me to join the Seniors Social Media Advisory Committee. The committee exists to help plan and develop what we now call Edmonton SeniorNet. Here’s some background that explains how this came about:

The Edmonton Seniors Coordinating Council (ESCC) was formed in 2004 as a mechanism of shared planning, coordination, and collaboration among Edmonton service providers for seniors. One of the ESCC’s objectives has been to develop and maintain a current strategic plan that addresses the needs of seniors and senior serving organizations in Edmonton. The Strategic Plan for Services to Edmonton’s Seniors: Towards 2015 is an initiative that aims to identify a shared strategic direction to meet the needs of seniors in Edmonton. One of the key areas that have been identified in this document is the need for meaningful and affordable social and recreational participation for seniors. A goal of this area, which Sage has taken the process lead on, is to develop and/or facilitate the use of current and emerging technologies to connect seniors.

This is interesting to me for a number of reasons. Obviously we know that the seniors population in Edmonton (and elsewhere) is growing rapidly. And we know that a large number of them are adopting tools like Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family. But there are lots of seniors who are not, for a variety of reasons. For me personally, my grandparents are split when it comes to web usage. My Dad’s mum is an avid email user, she’s on Facebook, and she uses instant messaging and SMS to keep in touch. She’s pretty savvy, and she’ll probably read this right away! On the flip side, my Mom’s parents use the Internet for banking and some very limited email and that’s about it. I often wonder why there’s such a difference in usage between them, and while I have some guesses, I don’t know the answer.

Sage recently received funding from the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program for this project, which was originally known as the “Emerging Social Media” project. Over the last few months we have been discussing how to take the program forward. The idea is to connect interested seniors with mentors to get an introduction to the world of social media, to see if it helps them stay connected.

We’re nearly into August now, and the Edmonton SeniorNet program is very close to launching!

Edmonton SeniorNet is a program that aims to introduce seniors to Internet websites that will help them easily connect and share ideas and stories with friends, family and the community. Edmonton SeniorNet seminars will take place at the Sage computer labs, and will run twice weekly from August to late October. Our hands-on seminars will teach seniors to use email and social-networking websites such as Facebook, Skype and Twitter.

Classes are currently scheduled to take place at Sage downtown (northwest corner of Churchill Square). One option is Monday & Wednesday afternoons from 1pm to 2:30pm (starts August 3), and the other is Tuesday & Thursday mornings from 10am to 11:30am (starts August 4).

We’re still looking for additional participants and mentors. Participants should have some basic computer skills and experience surfing the web is a desirable asset, though not required. Mentors should be enthusiastic but patient, should already use Facebook, Skype, and other tools regularly, and should be eager to share their knowledge with others! If you’re interested in participating either as a participant or a mentor, contact Karolina at Sage (contact info is on the right side).

Check out the Edmonton SeniorNet blog for updates as the project progresses. You can also like the project on Facebook!