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State Honoree

Stephanie Rochel

Massachusetts

brought together teens and seniors citizens through a computer literacy program for members of two local retirement communities. Stephanie, president of her local Leo Club, felt that seniors were becoming alienated from younger generations because of technological advances. “Kids have the chance to learn about computers and the Internet in school, but seniors do not,” said Stephanie. So she discussed the issue with members of her Leo Club, who decided to develop a class to teach seniors how to use computers. Stephanie secured approvals from the local Council on Aging, and united three student clubs to participate in the program. The students then posted flyers at the senior centers and submitted articles to local newspapers. Sixty seniors registered for the first class. Students work one-on-one with the same senior citizens during the four-week courses, while their school’s technology instructor teaches Internet surfing, e-mail, digital photography, and other topics. Not only have the seniors improved their computer skills, but so have the students, while both generations have learned to appreciate and better understand each other. In addition, Stephanie and her fellow students raised funds to establish computer stations at the senior centers. The program has been so successful that schools and Leo clubs around the state are being encouraged to start similar programs. “It truly does not matter what age you are; anyone can continue to learn and expand his or her mind,” said Stephanie.