Carolyn Amantea

CBAL connects seniors with technology

Group pitching Seniors with iPads program at Trail market

Trail Market on the Esplanade welcomes shoppers to enjoy the riverside atmosphere and forget about their plugged-in lifestyles for a few hours every other Friday during the summer months.

And this week, a first time vendor will be talking to market-goers about the Apple, but not the kind with a core in the centre.

The Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy (CBAL) will be at the market this Friday to spread the word about a new program launching this fall called Seniors with iPads.

Now that CBAL has its own space at 1160 Cedar Ave., the organization is ready to create one-on-one and group learning opportunities with scheduled times for older adults who might be struggling with their computer, iPads and cell phones.

“Ultimately, what we want is to make things more accessible for people in the community and we know that sometimes that is through technology,” said Sonia Tavares, the Trail organization’s community literacy coordinator.

“Especially our older adults because their kids are buying them something like an iPad because it’s easier to travel with,” she explained. “We can take away the fear of using it and hopefully we can facilitate a group that will support one another.”

Before the classes begin, CBAL is looking for tech- savvy volunteers, input about the best time to run the class and whether drop-in or set classes would garner the most interest.

A three-question survey will be handed out to adult passersby during the Trail market, said Tavares, because CBAL would also like to get a feel from the public regarding the need for further learning programs that would benefit the Greater Trail community.

The organization offers a drop-in service every Wednesday throughout the summer from 9:30-11:30 a.m. from its downtown location with community volunteers and staff on hand to assist adult learners with their technological devices.

“The drop-in is kind of like a community learning place,” said Tavares. “What we have found is that people aren’t taking computer classes because they have a different computer at home that doesn’t look the same.”

Instead, portable devices such as iPads, laptops, tablets and cell phones are brought to CBAL’s location and people are learning how to use their own device with great success.

“We can bring in up to 10 laptops and teach Facebook, how to shop online, Skype and Twitter and those types of things,”she said. “Then they can learn and practise on their own device with support or come back the next week for more support. That’s been very successful.”

She said many of the area’s seniors are already accessing email and social media but may need help understanding their device’s features like the “finger swipe” on the Apple touch screen.

“An amazing thing in our community is our older adults aren’t afraid to try new things,” she said. “And it’s wonderful to know that learning is lifelong.”

CBAL is a non-profit literacy organization that formed in 2001 to promote literacy and lifelong learning throughout 77 communities in the Columbia basin and Boundary region.

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