Introductory Internet class offered to seniors

Using a computer for the first time, for many people, seniors specifically, can be intimidating and justifiably scary. Because many worked during a time when computers were nonexistent or rare, re-entering the workforce where computers are the norm is a difficult transition. The Senior Community Service Employment Program is designed to train older adults to re-enter the workforce. SCSEP, which is coordinated through the Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging, recently received an educational grant through Cawaco Resource Conservation and Development to launch the Generations on Line program. Generations on Line works to help older adults use the Internet in an effort to promote lifelong learning, which may lead to improved physical and emotional well-being. The program is provided in a community environment where public access to a computer is available (public libraries, senior centers, community centers, etc.). Generations on Line classes are taught by peer coaches — seniors with basic email and Internet navigational skills. Students learn at their own pace as peer coaches guide them through the World Wide Web using step-by-step, on-screen instructions that appear in large type, plain English and a clear, uncluttered, user-friendly interface.

“Empowering seniors to use the computer is beneficial to both the individual and community,” said Sheila Baker, SCSEP coordinator. “Because the program is offered in a community setting, it decreases a senior’s isolation of the world outside of their home and makes use of a community resource (the computer) that is readily available and oftentimes overlooked.” In Walker County, seniors may take advantage of the Generations on Line program at two locations: Jasper Area Family Services and Walker County Community Action Agency. A peer coach is available five days a week. Individuals that are interested in learning more about using a computer should contact Carol Baccus at Jasper Area Family Services at (205) 387-0511, ext. 5830, or Lynn Harris at the Walker County Community Action Agency at (205) 221-4010. The Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging is a quasi-governmental agency that advocates and plans on behalf of seniors and persons with disabilities and their caregivers. With the intent of enriching quality of life and sustaining independence, M4A provides several support service programs in Blount, Chilton, Shelby, St. Clair and Walker counties. For more information on M4A or any of its programs for seniors, call toll-free to 1-866-570-2998.