Bridging the gap between generations is not an easy task. But one Spokane woman is doing all she can.
A counselor in the West Valley School District, Suzanne Ruth-Scott is the mastermind behind the Partners in Time program. Its goal is pairing Spokane elders with high school computer students who will teach the older adults basic computer skills.
Ruth-Scott has talked to two assisted living centers in the Spokane Valley to implement the program.
With the help of West Valley High School students, the elders will learn to use computers and the Internet. As the seniors gain confidence with the technology, they will be able to create greeting cards, residential newsletters, family trees and historical journals. Some elders will be linked with elementary school e-mail pals; others may enjoy computer games.
By finding a common bond, the youths and elders will reconnect and learn from one another, said Ruth-Scott, who has been in education for 28 years. Students can gain valuable knowledge through seniors’ wisdom and experiences.
Seniors will learn valuable skills that will keep them up-to-date, and help them from feeling so cut off from younger generations. “Our days are filled with TV, bingo and gossip,” one senior center resident said.
“These generations are so disconnected. We need to build empathy and caring. That comes when we understand and respect other people’s worlds,” said Ruth-Scott.
Partners in Time isn’t Ruth-Scott’s first attempt at creating bonds between the young and old. Four years ago, she began the intergenerational communication program at elementary schools in the West Valley District. She set up the senior lunch program, where elders visited elementary schools to eat lunch with children.
She got the idea for Partners in Time while attending a recent computer conference in Portland. The conference described a program in which elders were assigned elementary school e-mail pals, and how it positively impacted both groups.
Before Partners in Time can become a reality, computer labs need to be set up in the senior centers. The cost to build a lab is about $10,000.
“We are all here to touch each other’s lives,” said Ruth-Scott. “That’s my motto.”
To help with the program, donate computer equipment or volunteer, call Ruth-Scott at 924-0152, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations may be mailed to Partners in Time, West Valley High School, 2805 N. Argonne, Spokane, WA, 99212.
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