Bridge the Gap Initiative
Bridge the Gap is a student-run organization designed to help senior citizens navigate the digital world through interaction and instruction. We teach seniors a variety of technology skills, which were especially important during the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. These skills include technology basics most of us take for granted (phone calling, texting, video calling, etc.) We truly makes an impact on their quality of life by helping them connect with their loved ones virtually when they are physically separated.
This initiative conducts events at senior facilities and retirement communities in-person to assist residents with any technology issue they have, or to present a pre-planned lesson. High school volunteers work one-on-one with senior citizens to address their concerns, often creating a long-term relationship and personal connection. Since our start in October 2021, we have reached over 1000 seniors to teach 50+ topics, making a profound impact. We have also garnered over 150 volunteers, who have donated 800+ hours total.
We mostly target technology problems through one-on-one assistance. Originally, I had actually created slideshows that we could present at various senior facilities. However, I quickly realized that without visiting the facility, we had no idea what the needs of seniors were. This led me to recruit virtual volunteers that made handouts, complete with images and senior-friendly large print. Our program model completely changed, and I recruited volunteers from nearby schools at a 1:1 volunteer to senior ratio. This allowed seniors to get individual attention from a student, helping them create a connection and get technology help that was specific to them. At the conclusion of the session, we would pass out printed copies of the handouts pertaining to what the seniors had just learned. The handouts focus on individual topics (calling, texting, Zoom, Skype, iPad Settings, etc.), allowing seniors to recall the material they learn.
Funded by Cleveland, OH (September 2022)