“I’ve stepped into the electronic age”
Increasingly, our lives are online. We talk, read, pay bills, apply for jobs, attend school and shop…all with a touch or a click.
But many in our community grew up before any of this was possible.
Launched four years ago, DigiLit 101 has brought hundreds of seniors online. Now, thanks to a generous investment from AARP North Carolina, graduates will have the tools to stay active in the digital world. AARP’s gift will provide a chromebook to seniors who complete the six-week course.
“AARP has worked with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Libraries as a valuable partner since 2013, and we are especially proud to sponsor the Digital Inclusion for Seniors program. By closing the digital divide, this program will help older residents embrace smart technology which will allow them to live with greater independence, dignity and choice.”
– Michael Olender, Manager, Outreach and Local Advocacy, AARP North Carolina
DigiLit covers everything from hardware and software basics to mobile devices, social media and Internet safety. In 2017 the Library began offering classes in outreach locations thanks to an investment in portable computer labs from the Philip L. Van Every Foundation, and there has been heavy demand from senior centers. To date, ten six-week courses have been presented in area senior centers, with more in the planning.
“We want our students – of all ages – to have the skills essential for modern society,” said Everett Blackmon, University City Regional Library’s main contact for digital literacy classes. “Computers are the gateway to nearly everything we do, and we field questions in every Library location from seniors and others who are new to the digital world. We don’t want anyone sitting on the sidelines. Many seniors are learning something they never considered, and they can immediately use their new skills to connect with children and grandchildren. One woman cried on graduation because she was so proud.”
Francine Ashe owns an ipad and a smartphone, and she credits DigiLit for teaching her to use them. “I feel like I’ve stepped into the electronic age. I can participate in a whole new world! Seniors are lonely sometimes, and there is so much information available that we can access. I share pictures with my grandchildren, I find recipes on Pinterest, and I even read books online. A whole world is at my fingertips.” Shirley Massey, a resident of Prosperity Creek Senior Apartments, agrees. “I want to learn everything I can absorb.”