As anyone who has read my previous posts, you will remember that last April I was burgled and that from due to that experience, I met the local Community Warden.
His persuadings led me to offer my services to help Senior Citizens learn how to use computers; the local youth centre has a computer suite that is only used on Thursday evenings due to lack of adult volunteers at the centre. The Warden negotiated day-time usage for the local Active Retirement Association with me to guide them through the basic knowledge.
I am not a computer tutor and have never claimed to be such, but twenty odd years of a love/hate relationship with the machine – and also understanding of the minds of our older citizens due to my work with the RBL membership, gave me the experience needed to help them.
The first meeting brought together various interested parties, the chairman of Ditton and Malling Active Retirement Association (DAMARA), the Youth Warden, the Community Warden and an experienced IT tutor who works for the head office of a national bank, we discussed all the pros and cons of the idea and agreed that it was viable if enough members of DAMARA were interested.
After the meeting, I composed a flyer for the chairman of DAMARA to hand out and about sixteen members appeared at the next meeting! Now there are only five computers at the centre and so my couple of hours a week evolved into four sessions of one hour and one evening session of an hour and a half!
The next problem was who would attend each session, do you remember how young school children would say “I’m not going if Brenda’s going” or “If Jimmy’s going I want to be with him” – well it was like that with the addition of “Can’t do Tuesday morning that’s the walking club with pub lunch” and “Wednesday evening is the bowls” – I said that it was an ACTIVE retirement association – didn’t I??
The sessions started last week and they have been fun, some come along to learn a specific skill, setting up a data-base etc., but most really want to learn from the beginning and two ladies had never switched a computer on before!
Most can now write a letter and save it to a file, some have learned how to add photos and use word art and they are busy designing invitations and birthday cards.
However I think the best result is my two computer illiterate ladies; the first session, which lasted about seventy minutes, got them learning how to use a mouse by playing patience on screen – I had to peel them off the machines ten minutes after the session had finished! This week, apart from wanting to play more card games, they wrote a letter! OK it wasn’t fully professional and they were using one finger on each hand – but they did it and learned how to save it!
Let’s see how they get on over the next few weeks, each person donates one pound towards the youth centre per session for the use of the premises, computers and power and add extra if we raid the cupboards for a tea or coffee.
Finally – the average age of these lovely learners, well the youngest is sixty nine and the eldest is eighty four – so it’s about seventy six – who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?