By Julie Williams

July 6 marked a special day as family, friends and library staff gathered at the Parkview Village auditorium to celebrate the graduation ceremony of the Seniors Intergenerational Tech Training course.

One by one, faces beaming, the seniors walked proudly into the room dressed in black graduation gowns and caps. They are among the first group to complete the eight-week program offered by the Whitchurch-Stouffville library and supported by the federal New Horizons for Seniors grant. The program pairs seniors and teens one-on-one in a classroom environment with a professional instructor to teach seniors how to use iPads and to encourage new social connections.

“It was incredible to see and feel the excitement and sense of accomplishment amongst the seniors as they progressed throughout the eight-week program,” said program instructor, Brian Freedman. “So, capping all of this off with a formal graduation ceremony seemed the most appropriate and natural way to mark this amazing milestone.”

Feedback submitted by the senior participants expressed how important and meaningful the program was to them.

“I can use an iPad and be alive,” exclaimed one. “Gave me the feeling that I’m not really that old,” said another.

Other comments included, “Thank you so much for the opportunity to have this learning. Children get to learn and we want to learn too.

“It means so much to be able to chat and have face time with my relatives in Australia, especially my 97-year-old aunt.

“There are lots of things to discover and do research on. I can find more and make connections with people to stay in touch, exchange ideas, information and thoughts.

“The interactions with the students make this training special. I made friends with a student and we talked about many things and it is amazing that we did not feel the age difference.”

Another session starts on Sept. 12 for both senior participants and teen volunteer tech mentors (ages 14-18). For more information or to register, contact Catherine Arthurs via email  catherine.arthurs@wsplibrary.ca or by phone at (905) 642-7323, ext. 5234.

Main photo:  Back row, from the left: Pauline, Clara, Judy, Bob, Gord, Robert, Jim, Margaret, Gennie, Elizabeth. Front row: David, Liz, Koula, Brian (instructor), Judy, Thelma, Marilyn and Kathleen.