Using their knowledge of technology, JCI members increase interaction by teaching computer and social media skills to the elderly.
Society grows and changes everyday. Each community, each region and each JCI National and Local Organization is unique. However, across borders, technology connects us all.
JCI Brazil-Japan members realized the significant role that technology plays in society. After analyzing the needs of their community regarding the use of technology and the Internet, they became aware of a large generation gap between technology users. The young adults are very technology savvy, but the elderly felt disconnected and lost when using computers and navigating the Internet. This disconnect from the Internet and lack of basic computer skills also created a social barrier for the elderly. JCI members decided to remove the barriers to social interaction and empower local seniors with the skills to navigate the online world.
After two years of needs analysis and planning, JCI Brazil-Japan moved to the next stage of the JCI Active Citizen Framework and began to seek out positive, strong community partnerships. JCI members partnered with computer schools and Internet cafes that allowed them to use their facilities and equipment to hold basic computer skills and Internet classes for the elderly.
During these first classes, course books and teaching methodologies were tested and improved to meet the specific needs of the audience. These materials were also updated from class to class with feedback from the students. Once the course book and content were finalized, JCI Brazil-Japan built a new partnership with the Paulo Kobayashi Institute (IPK), a fundraising organization, to expand the program. IPK consists of private companies that will donate and maintain facilities for the computer-skill classes. They will also assist organizations interested in delivering the courses by providing space and other volunteers.
JCI Brazil-Japan spends about US $600 per year to teach these classes and this funding is maintained by the strong partnerships cultivated throughout the planning process. Partners on this project collaborate financially and physically by providing chairs, room space, refreshments, computers and teaching supplies to conduct successful classes in an environment that best facilitates learning.
Teaching Technology Skills
With partnerships in place, the courses run very smoothly. Now, the course is taught at more than 30 facilities across the community. By the end of each course, elderly students have learned how to send e-mails, navigate websites, make a drawing, write and edit documents, make video calls, open and download pictures, listen to music, watch online videos and organize personal files on a computer.
The class is also focused on a positive social experience. Students are encouraged to interact with each other in a fun environment and find enjoyment in sharing new technology skills with one another. Students participate in friendly competition through small contests and team building activities as they explore the digital world. They are also taught about different social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter so they can expand their online networks and connect with friends and family.
In addition to the benefits for course participants, volunteer instructors get great experience practicing their pubic speaking and communication skills, as well as creative lesson planning and problem solving techniques to use with their students. The project maintains volunteer self-sustainability by encouraging and training course graduates to become monitors and instructors.
Moving To the Future
At the end of each class, students give feedback about their experience and what they learned. As the final step of the JCI Active Citizen Framework, evaluating results and finding out how to improve and sustain the project is critical to creating an ongoing impact.
JCI Brazil-Japan is pleased with the overwhelming positive response from their elderly students about the computer skills learned, as well as the positive feeling gained of being more integrated into society. Many students feel a boost in their self-esteem from these classes due to their new skills and new social circles.
With the strong partnerships still intact and a continuous pool of volunteers and instructors willing to donate their time to a good cause, JCI Brazil-Japan continues to provide these classes and improve the knowledge and spirit of the elderly in their community.
Thank you to 2012 JCI Brazil-Japan Local President Daniel Kawachi and 2012 JCI Brazil National Vice President Fabio Kawauchi for providing information for this article.
For more information on how JCI members are creating positive change in their communities, visit the JCI Project Gallery and submit your initiatives today!