Okanagan College students presented with gift from Interior Savings

Okanagan College Enactus students were presented with a $9,700 cheque from Interior Savings Credit Union in support of their initiative to promote seniors’ wellness through tech-savvy training.

Through the Silver Surfers program, Okanagan College Enactus students provide resources and coaching to enhance the abilities of seniors to communicate with loved ones and safely explore the Internet.

The program offers student-to-senior mentorship and step-by-step illustrated guides on technology use with tools such as the iPad. The highly-portable program helps address the social isolation and mental health issues often felt by seniors and provides opportunities for them to increase their cognitive abilities.

“We wanted to find a way to use our entrepreneurial skills to create tangible change in the community,” says Rebecca Alfred, who co-founded the program alongside fellow Okanagan College School of Business students Daniel Alfred, Sam Jamieson and Meaghan Barnard. “We are thrilled that Interior Savings is recognizing the demand for Silver Surfers in the Okanagan and investing in the program’s growth.”

For Interior Savings, this partnership was a logical extension to their recent certification as the first age-friendly financial institution in B.C.

“Interior Savings has made a commitment to help lead the way in building more age-friendly communities,” said Kathy Conway, CEO of Interior Savings. “Silver Surfers will help a generation who grew up making phone calls and sending letters in the mail remain socially connected in a very different environment. We’re excited to support these students in helping build a community that is more inclusive and connected, regardless of age.”

The Silver Surfers program educates seniors on a range of tech topics over four one-hour sessions–from learning to use power and volume controls, to sending emails and performing searches, to taking a selfie and making video calls.

It also includes the subject of cyber security, an important concern for seniors new to technology, as they may be more susceptible to online fraud schemes.

Popularity of the program has already increased by word-of-mouth since the Silver Surfers piloted their program at a Kelowna retirement home in May 2016. They are currently running their fourth and fifth programs at two different seniors residences and have grown to more than 30 volunteer mentors.

The gift will enhance the Silver Surfers program through the construction of a website to boost their online presence and provide for the purchase of wireless routers and tablets that will enable the program to run simultaneously in multiple locations.

The students are already seeing the rewards of their efforts – a recent survey of program participants showed an 86 per cent increase in the number of online interactions between the residents and their loved ones.

“As students, running programs through Enactus provides challenging business experience in an accepting environment,” Alfred explains. “This donation enables us as students to continue to grow the program and make an impact on the community.”

The group hopes the new website, which launches this week, will be an effective tool for increasing awareness of the program, engaging supporters and inspiring volunteers in the Okanagan Valley and beyond.

Original article from: Okanagan College

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