Our Seniors Deserve Better
Even though our stated mission is traditionally geared toward Albania’s youth, here at the Ivanaj Foundations, we have come to acknowledge and recognize that Albania’s senior population is increasingly being forgotten and neglected by mainstream society.
While we strongly believe that our country’s youth are the key to a better future, we also envision a more inclusive society where seniors play a greater role in the social and civic development of Albania. We don’t want our seniors to feel neglected while living out the rest of their lives on the fringes of society. We know our seniors deserve better and we believe that they have much to offer, if only given the opportunity.
Senior Technology Program (STC)
In response to this need, last year, with your help, we developed and funded the first of its kind in Albania: The Senior Technology Club in the hopes of bringing seniors back into the folds of society by giving them the technological know-how so that they may be able to connect with the rest of us, online, through a multitude of social platforms.
The main goal of the STC is to provide seniors with enough knowledge so as to be able to use their smartphones, computers and the internet to connect to their family members both in Albania and abroad, stay up-to-date on the latest news and information online, and much more.
The STC is led and developed by a dedicated group of youthful volunteers and Ivanaj Foundation staff who not only train the seniors in all of the above, but also strive to build solid relationships with club members through planned outdoor activities and excursions. In this way, the STC serves a double purpose of helping to bridge generational gaps through beneficial exchange of ideas and experience that both parties deeply benefit from.
STC Program Overview
Last year, through the generous donations of our loyal supporters, the STC pilot program was able to train a dozen seniors over a period of two months (September to November). There were a total of six training sessions, each lasting anywhere between 70-90 minutes.
During this time we sat side-by-side with our club members as we patiently trained and warmly encouraged each senior to open up social media accounts, learn to take pictures on their phones and showed them how to share those pictures with their contacts, how to comment on news sites and other platforms in order to give them a voice through a stronger online presence. Seniors also learned how to open up and use email accounts, browse the internet, and were even introduced to some cool virtual reality technology which was a real favorite amongst all club members.
2018 STC Courses & Activities
1st training session: Technology illustrations/evolution and its use in daily life.
- Practical part: artificial intelligence
2nd training session: Introduction of hardware computing components and their usage, and most used softwares in daily life (Word, Email, Google Chrome, www…)
- Open discussions with youth & questionnaires competition about Albanian history
3rd training session: Creating a gmail account and exchanging emails
Practical part: introduction to Arduino & Virtual Reality
4th training session: Creating a Facebook & Whatsapp accounts and start using their most important features. •Open discussion with youth & questionnaires competitions about Albanian cousine
5th training session: Creating a Skype account and start using it
- Practical part: introduction to robots (Arduino)
6th training session: Summary & Celebration: Team working seniors with youth (on art crafting)
It was a beautiful thing and a privilege for us to witness their eyes light up when they were able to successfully accomplish all these functions with relative ease.
Survey Results from STC 2018
A year later, we decided to check in with our seniors in order to discover how and if they were still using their newly gained technological skills. We accomplished this through a survey where program participants were asked what they enjoyed most about the program, what they would change, which parts they found most useful, and how their newly gained knowledge is benefiting them today.
The responses we received were quite encouraging!
All of the seniors felt the program was well-developed and implemented with great care and affection. We didn’t receive any replies as to what they would change about the program (maybe they were being nice, or maybe our program really is THAT great).
Survey findings also indicated that being able to freely browse the internet and have access to quick information is one of the top ways’ participants have benefited from this program. The second most popular response was their increased use of smartphones to connect with family members through applications such as WhatsApp and Viber.
Finally, we are proud to report that all of our seniors expressed to us their joy and gratefulness for the opportunity to take part in a program that was designed specifically with them in mind. We suspected they might be since seniors are the most overlooked population in Albania when it comes to social services and programs.
Now that they can freely browse the internet, and if they should stumble on this article, we hope they know that it is we who are grateful for their participation in our program and for being open enough to dare to try something new!
It’s 2019 and we have no time to spare!
Considering the great success of our STC in 2018, it should come as no surprise that we wish to not only replicate it, but to also expand the reach and scope of this truly worthwhile and greatly rewarding program.
Please stay tuned, for in the coming days we will be reaching out with more information about STC 2019, as well as the different ways that you can once again contribute to help make the current year program even greater than last year.
We appreciate your support in this cherished program and advance our thanks for all your contributions!