Photo: Bessie Paris speaks at the 2019 Digital Inclusion Week Celebration.
Community Tech Network partnered with Austin’s Family Eldercare to provide the Connect @ Home program from November 2018 to January 2019. This program, funded by the Consumer Technology Association Foundation, had a cohort of 36 learners in six classes at four Family Eldercare locations.
In a follow-up call with CTN staff this month to review the program’s impact, learner Bessie Paris (formerly Bessie Hawkins) shared the following observations.
I appreciate being allowed to participate in the program. It has opened a whole new world for me! Looking back, I was surprised how quickly I adapted to using the tablet and how fast I became comfortable and confident exploring with it. That is probably because my teacher was so patient and understanding. She always encouraged me not to be afraid to try something new and to have fun along the way.
Seniors get a bad rap from younger folks these days, but we started these generations! And now it’s our job to catch up to them with our computers. That’s what the training at Family Eldercare let me do. To catch up and feel like I am important part of the community again.
I use my tablet every day, and I love to do Facebook. I have over 100 friends, including my family and people from my past. I can talk to my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Talking to my old friends brings me back to my childhood. I also love to look up recipes, and I attend exercise classes — that keeps me from feeling so lonely and isolated right now and keeps me moving.
I also use my tablet to listen to music in my kitchen all day. Jazz, blues, classical — they all keep me company. I love the “oldies.” Sometimes I even watch a concert.
I want to tell other seniors out there to get a tablet and some training if you can. It will change your life like it changed mine. I want to say thank you to my teachers and everyone else who make this possible.