Springfield-Clark CTC students help Masonic Home seniors with technology

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Students from the Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center recently helped seniors at the Springfield Masonic Home learn about and use technology.

About 10 students helped 30 of the seniors learn more about technology and scams and answered questions.

Betty Jane Gardner, who lives at the Springfield Masonic Home, organized this “seniors helping seniors” event with the help of CTC Superintendent Michelle Patrick and Angela Yake.

“These kids are skilled, and I knew the value of what they knew and they’re learning and how this can help the general population, especially this population,” she said. “I also wanted our senior living community to know what goes on in Springfield, to know we have students here who can help us, and what they’re learning is going to be and is valuable to us.”

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

CTC senior Zachary Swearingen said doing this for the seniors is a big help for them.

“(It’s) a big help to help them not get scammed, help them not end up buying something or giving all their life savings away ... Someone stealing everything they have, that can be stressful for someone at this age,” he said. “To be able to help them out and even getting just a little bit out to the rest of the community is a great help because having cybersecurity is very important for everyone, it’s not just important for seniors, it’s important for everyone of all ages.”

Swearingen said it’s “extremely valuable” to be able to learn how to protect yourself and families from the technology dangers. He spoke of an incident in which his grandmother fell into a scam that involved someone taking control of her computer, but he was able to help her by changing her security settings and mitigating the damage so they could get it to someone that “has much more training” than he does.

“Trying to navigate the internet is not an easy thing, even for kids my age. For any age, there’s always dangers and different things that can happen, so it’s not easy,” he said.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Gardner said she’s not sure many seniors know when they’re having safety issues.

“We are unaware of what might happen, what we did to help that danger happen, or what we didn’t do to help that danger happen,” she said. “So I think it’s our age, our lack of experience and familiarity, but I think that’s one of the major issues where our problems lie.”

Dorothy Neer, who is 96 and said she had never done anything with technology until she was 70, had questions about getting notices, ads and other things off her computer and phone,.

“I think it’s a marvelous opportunity for anybody that is using this new technology. We’re lost without help from the young folks,” Neer said. “This was a big help. We get a lot of things that are frightening to open. We’ve learned not to do that. It’s just been a great experience ... I love the technology. I think it’s a wonderful thing, and I use it daily.”

Gardner said this also gave students an opportunity to do “on-the-job” training in educating others.

“It’s a win-win,” she said. “I love what they’re doing, I love why they’re doing it. They’re helping us, and I love it.”

Gardner said she would like to do similar events in the future with students.

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