The United Way of Northern New Jersey Caregivers Coalition tapped into the volunteer spirit and tech savvy of area teenagers, pairing nine digital natives with family caregivers for a free tech support session last month that was eye-opening for both generations.
Some 30 family caregivers showed up at the Verona Community Center on May 20 with their personal smartphones, tablets and laptops in hopes of learning how to better navigate what can be a bedeviling digital world. Many of the caregivers are hoping to integrate the use of technology in their care for loved ones who are ill, frail or living with a mental or physical disability.
Their tech mentors for two hours were local Verona and Montclair teenagers who negotiate the digital world with ease, having grown up using technology. Verona students Olivia Vogel, Jessica Waldron, Olivia Egan, Kiera Egan, Stephanie Boyle, Gillian O’Donnell and Grace Trupia were among those who participated.
The idea for the workshop came from listening to Coalition members who have shared that technology can be more frustrating than helpful, said Deb Day, the United Way Caregivers Coalition manager who organized the event. It was a no-brainer that the perfect candidates for the job would be young people who are immersed in technology, Day said.
“I have a grandma and she needs help, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to help others like her,” Verona eighth grader Olivia Egan said. “A lot of the people said it’s funny that we’re the experts, but we’ve grown up with this. It’s interesting to see the transition from their time with giant TVs and now we have phones in our hands.”
For more information about the United Way Caregivers Coalition, visit UnitedWayNNJ.org, email [email protected] or call 973.993, x209.