By Sarah McKinney Gibson
Fifty high school students in the Denver area are acting as a volunteer “geek squad” for older adults living in senior centers and independent living communities. Generation Tech, the nonprofit they created, was recently featured by The Denver Post.
“Our goal isn’t just about technology,” says Zachary Wang. “It’s about connection.”
The idea for Generation Tech came to Wang while he was volunteering at an adult day program. The older adults would ask him about their new phones, and they often sat in a communal room with two computers that nobody used. “Helping them with technology just seemed like such an easy way to have a quick connection and benefit both generations.”
Libby Lapporte works with Wang and says she’s always been drawn to older people. “I started playing Wii with them when I was 7 years old,” she says, “so it feels natural for me to connect with seniors through technology.”
Generation Tech recently received a $21,000 grant from the NextFifty Initiative that’s allowed them to purchase technology and begin creating videos to share what they’re doing with more people.
The student volunteers work 1-on-1 with older adults and give tech workshops for groups interested in learning things like how to use Amazon Alexa, get groceries delivered, or connect with family through Ancenstry.com.
Seeing generational stereotypes fall away is one of the things Wang enjoys most. “After working together for 30 minutes on something so simple, there seems to be an understanding of the common humanity we share,” he says. “It’s pretty exhilitering.”
Lapporte agrees that, at its heart, Generation Tech is about connection. “One day a woman asked me to help her order groceries, and I knew she could do it herself because I’d taught her before and she’d done it like seven times,” says Lapporte. “She just wanted to talk.”
Wang and Lapporte are high school seniors, but they’re committed to seeing Generation Tech continue to grow and do good things after they head to college. “We’re working to involve more underclassmen and juniors, and to raise more grant money,” says Wang.
“It’s hard to see exactly where we’re at because we’re just high school students,” says Lapporte, “but we’d love to bring this to every community across the country.”
In this photo Generation Tech members celebrate the new technology and upcoming year with $21,000 in grant funding from the Next Fifty Initiative at Cherry Creek High School.
Learn more at https://gentechco.org