Kivascombe, Wisconsin – Time moves forward in an interesting way.
““I don’t know where the metaverse is. I don’t know if it’s part of the universe or if it’s part of the universe,” laughs Clarence Henkel, 89.
You can either keep up with the changes, or risk falling behind.
“If the phone rang,” recalls Mike Carney, 76, “you walked up to the phone, took it off the wall, and said, ‘Hi. ‘”
What’s the latest and greatest in one era becomes obsolete in a few years.
“It’s spinning,” Mike continued. “If you want to dial it up, it’s, ch-ch-ch-cht, ch-ch-ch-cht.
“I heard it was annoying,” says 16-year-old Mia Vetter. “Because my grandfather liked to talk about it. “
This fall, Kewaskum High School is offering a different kind of program.
“I just told the girl how we used to have to get off the couch and go up and turn the little black and white TV on and off,” Mike said.
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It is bridging the gap between generations.
“bunny ears? ’ said Katelyn Scannell suspiciously. ‘Maybe it was during Easter? I have no idea. “
Katelyn and Mia are both juniors at Kewaskum. But once a week, these students become teachers.
They volunteer with the Washington County Aging and Disability Resource Center to hold technology classes for seniors.
“Because high school kids are so much smarter than me when it comes to technology,” ADRC director Tammy Anderson says of why she organizes—rather than teaches—the class.
“I don’t have kids, nieces or nephews,” said class participant Sandy Bohn from West Bend. “So everything I learned, I had to go somewhere and get the information.
The goal is to open the door to a sometimes daunting world.
“Every time I go over and touch them,” Clarence said of smartphones. “They do things that they shouldn’t.
Several obstacles were encountered in launching the pilot project.
“‘OK Go to your messaging app,” Mia recalls of their first class. “All of a sudden, someone yelled, ‘What’s an app? ’ So we all had to be taken back by it. ‘Oh, we’re so far behind. ‘”
In many ways, it’s like learning a new language.
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“biscuit? said Clarence. “Well, let me tell you, I have some in my bag.” “
Like any good startup, the girls recalibrated on the fly — focusing on simple tasks like sending texts, emails, and video calls to even the most confusing concept of all — emojis.
“I had one,” Mia said. “We went through every single emoji, and it took some time.
“He wanted to do the laughing and crying emoji,” Caitlyn said of another encounter. “But he did the real crying, sad emoji. So his daughter probably thought he had a bad experience. “
Although the tone of the class was lighthearted and self-deprecating, the reason was not a joke.
“There’s a movement right now that focuses on social isolation and loneliness,” Tammy explained.
Research shows that nearly a quarter of American adults age 65 and older live in social isolation, a life that can significantly increase a person’s risk of premature death from all causes. The risk of dementia increased by 50%, and the risk of heart disease or stroke increased by about 30%.
“What good is it if you’re just sitting at home with cobwebs all over you? said Mike. “I want to learn some of these things.” “
Let this former teacher be a model student.
“The third door over there says,” Mike continued, pointing to a sign in the classroom. “Never stop learning because life never stops teaching. “
““Some people always think technology is pulling us apart. But if you look at it, it kind of brings us together,” Caitlin said.
While many of these students are in the fall, it’s never too late to turn a new leaf.
Well, except for one topic.
“I’ve heard of TikTok,” Clarence said. “But I don’t know anything about it.
“Well, it’s always possible,” Kaitlyn said with a laugh. “But I don’t know if it will be in this Meeting. “
Kewaskum held two different sessions this fall, with the last class on November 17th. 29. They plan to continue the project next year. In fact, there’s already a waiting list.
ADRC organizers hope other schools will consider similar programs to share knowledge and experiences across generations.