From left Omar Saghir, Mahdi Hassan and Cameron Eldridge are volunteers at the Carlingwood Library branch and recently helped seniors learn technologies in a program called Techno Buddies.
Photo by Kristy Strauss
Mahdi Hassan, 18, can’t remember a time when he didn’t use computers.
The same sentiment went for his fellow youth volunteers at the Ottawa Public Library’s Carlingwood branch.
These young adults and teenagers were recently at the west-end branch giving lessons to seniors on how to use technology – from emailing, to Facebook, to even just starting a computer up – in a program called Techno Buddies.
The program was a pilot project, said Courtney Mellor, teen services librarian at Carlingwood.
Mellor works closely with the young people who volunteer with the library’s other programs and said the teens wanted to work with older people more than working with children.
“It’s really breaking down the barriers,” said Mellor, adding that seniors need interaction with other generations.
Mary Anne, who didn’t want her last name used, is one of the seniors who attended the workshop. She said the program has been very helpful. Her buddy taught her the basics – working the mouse, starting up the computer and opening a program.
“I went straight from here to the community centre at Lincoln Fields and I practiced on the computer,” she said. “I did get something out of it. It’s a learning curve for someone who hasn’t grown up with it.”
Wilma, another senior with the program who also declined to give her last name, said she used to have a computer, but didn’t use it as much when she had to become a caregiver to an Alzheimer’s patient.
“I wanted to refresh my mind,” Wilma said. “I wanted to see how much I could remember.”
The teens said taking part in the program required a lot of patience, but they were happy to help the older generation.
“My hope is that they can email home,” said Hassan.
“Practice makes perfect, that’s all,” added volunteer Omar Saghir.
Keara McKeown, 15, said the volunteer opportunity was great and that you don’t need to know everything about computers in order to volunteer for the program.
“Courtney matches up your level of expertise to what the person needs,” she said. “You don’t need to take a course in computers.”
While the pilot project is finished up for the summer, Mellor said the program was so successful that the library will host more sessions next summer.
For more information on programs at the Ottawa Public Library’s branches, visit: biblioottawalibrary.ca.