Residents at three PHA senior developments became better acquainted with digital technology this summer, thanks to a pilot program run by the Urban Affairs Coalition (UAC) of Philadelphia.
The “Fix IT” program, shorthand for “Fix Information Technology,” shows seniors how to go online for services and access programs such as Facebook. A $1,000 mini- grant from the “On the Table Philly” forum run by the Knight Foundation and the Philadelphia Foundation made the training sessions possible. The forum is designed to elevate civic conversation, foster new relationships, and create a unifying experience.
An “On the Table Philly” discussion at the Urban Affairs Coalition (UAC) office last October focused on how technology has disrupted and benefited social services. The “Fix IT” events connected local tech-savvy youth with older adults and senior citizens who are experiencing the digital divide at Gladys B. Jacobs, Wilson Park, and Lucien E. Blackwell. Participating youth learn STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and entrepreneurial skills.
“Our UAC team met and decided that we could bring young people and seniors together, using technology to connect generations around commonalities; and it was so exciting to see it happen!” said Sharmain Matlock-Turner, the President and CEO of the group. She points out that the founding of UAC was based the same ideas as “On the Table Philly”; meeting, talking, and sharing ideas and solutions.
“Beyond connecting seniors to the internet, which on its own is very important, by having kids provide the tech support, we are creating opportunities for inter-generational learning and impact,” said Tivoni Devor, Director of Growth and Engagement for UAC. “We hope this empowers the youth to realize that they have opportunities to be leaders and help their community.”
Devor credits PHA for donating tablets to the “Fix IT” program that helped make it a success. With more funding, the program can definitely expand service in the future.
Former PHA employee Marcus Kellam was really the key connector to make the “Fix IT” days a success. He is currently an assistant project manager at UAC and is a Boy Scout Troop Master. Kellam was able to connect UAC, PHA, and the Boy Scouts to really take “Fix IT” to the next level.