During the pandemic, Ivy Au, a third-year neurobiology student at UC San Diego, decided to volunteer with Community Tech Network.
“Because of COVID, I recognized the importance of the internet. I was able to stay connected with my doctors and teachers, and every part of my life basically continued. I realized I was fortunate to be able to access technology,” says Ivy.
Wanting to give back, Ivy became a digital coach with CTN. She hosts weekly lessons with Renee, a senior citizen, and tailors her classes to meet Renee’s needs. Says Ivy, “Many senior citizens are so unfamiliar with technology that they are afraid to use it. I teach according to their comfort level and help them gain skills that they can use in everyday life.”
Overall, Ivy thinks that digital coaching improves seniors’ mental health by giving them access to three critical resources: social interaction, entertainment, and healthcare.
Socially, Renee has become a major fan of Facebook, connecting with family and friends and participating in local online groups.
With Ivy’s help, Renee also signed up to check out books and movies online through the Free Public Library’s website, providing her with much-needed entertainment during the pandemic. She learned how to use YouTube and Netflix as well.
By teaching Renee how to use Zoom, Ivy helped Renee schedule telehealth appointments, especially valuable since she lacks adequate transportation.
The impact of Ivy’s work has been significant. “There’s a domino effect,” she says, “because Renee both uses the knowledge she has gained and shares it with her friends.”
Says Ivy, “So many seniors lack adequate internet access and skills, and I hope that, by being a digital coach, I am able to improve people’s quality of life, even if in small ways.”
Learn more about CTN’s Digital Coaching Program.