LOS ANGELES, May 18, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Cyber-Seniors, a non-profit organization that has trained thousands of young people to act as tech-mentors for senior citizens, is taking a lead role in ensuring older adults and other vulnerable individuals stay safe and connected during this world-wide pandemic. Established in 2015, the organization grew out of the recognition of the need for older adults to remain socially connected and self-sufficient, and in the wake of COVID-19, their work has never been more important and relevant.
"During this time of imposed self-isolation, it is crucial for seniors to stay connected to their families, friends and communities. Whether by keeping up with news, using a website to order food or visiting with friends and family via video conferencing, tech fluency will make an enormous difference in allowing seniors to remain self-sufficient and socially connected from the safety of their own homes. In the best of times, digital literacy can be life-altering; in times like these, it can be life-saving," says Brenda Rusnak, Co-Founder and Executive Manager of Cyber-Seniors.
Building on Director Saffron Cassaday's 2014 award-winning documentary film Cyber-Seniors, and the high school community service project that inspired it, the Cyber-Seniors organization connects tech savvy youth to older adults. The reverse mentoring model helps break down negative generational stereotypes and supports development of personal relationships. With programs that have expanded across the world, Cyber-Seniors is uniquely positioned to play a lead role in helping seniors stay safe and connected during this unprecedented time.
With an expansive network of trained young people ready to be deployed, and educational videos at the ready to deliver established training protocols designed to encourage empathy and understanding among the volunteer mentors, Cyber-Seniors has a unique capability to expand their volunteer base to meet the growing need among the senior population, who are increasingly isolated during this crisis.
"We are in a position to mobilize thousands of young volunteers to provide senior citizens and other vulnerable individuals with the technology training, support and companionship they need right now, both through phone calls and on-line platforms," emphasizes Cyber-Seniors' Director of Online Programming and Co-Founder, Macaulee Cassaday.
Cyber-Seniors is seeking help in this initiative. Here's how to get involved:
- Cyber-Seniors is asking teenagers, young adults and individuals of any age who are tech-savvy, to register to take the on-line Cyber-Seniors Mentor Training program and volunteer to deliver tech-training and support services to seniors. This program (which focuses on how to communicate, exercise empathy and teach older adults about technology) consists of 6 training videos and quizzes and only takes a few hours to complete. To take the Mentor Training program and volunteer as a mentor register at www.cyberseniors.org.
- Senior advocacy groups, senior living managers, families of senior citizens, and senior citizens themselves can call 1-844-217-3057 or email [email protected] to set up one-on-one training, participate in a group session and/or access the over 1200 tutorials and discussion forums on the Cyber-Seniors website. Mentors are also available by telephone for seniors who cannot access an online platform. Access to the Cyber-Seniors teaching site is free for seniors and for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic; organizations wishing to bring the program to their community can register for free or partner with Cyber-Seniors to integrate it with their own program. Most of the Cyber-Seniors training resources will also be available in Spanish and French within a few months.
- Businesses and individuals are encouraged to support Cyber-Seniors by going to www.cyberseniors.org and clicking Donate. At this unprecedented time, Cyber-Seniors welcomes donations — both monetary and in-kind — including corporate sponsorships, technology support, promotion and advertising, and partnerships designed to encourage both seniors and young people to join in their efforts. Cyber-Seniors appreciates support now more than ever to help those most vulnerable during this crisis.
"As always, our number one goal is to keep seniors safe and socially connected, while providing young people with a meaningful volunteer experience that benefits them with skills that can have a life-long impact and prepare them for college and careers. Teens teach; seniors learn — everyone wins!" enthused Cyber-Seniors' Director of Digital Services and Co-founder, Kascha Cassaday.
To date, Cyber-Seniors has secured the support of Best Buy Foundation, Consumer Technology Association Foundation, AARP, Ontario Seniors Community Grant (via Spark Niagara), United Way Niagara and Government of Canada. The organization welcomes the support of companies and individuals that would like to further the mission of Cyber-Seniors as an urgent response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Watch Cyber-Seniors - the film that inspired the movement at www.cyberseniorsdocumentary.com and on Amazon, Google Play, iTunes and VUDU.
Cyber-Senior principals are available for interviews upon request