Girl Scouts Hold Tech Meet-Up for Seniors

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Jenny Sammis
Jenny Sammis

Eager seniors arrived with their cell phones. Some weren’t sure how to answer phone calls. One woman was struggling to navigate her inbox. Help increasing font size seemed to be a common request.

Fortunately, Girl Scout Troop 60013 was prepared for every question that came their way.

This past week, these Girl Scouts based in Arlington, Virginia hosted what they are calling ‘Tech Bridge”. This user group is especially for local seniors needing help with their smart devices.

“Some had specific questions, but a lot of people came and just wanted to learn,” Maura Sammis, a Girl Scout Cadette. “I set [Apple Pay] up for a couple [of] people and they were really excited about that.”

Fellow Girl Scout Sarah Middleton said last week’s clinic helped around ten seniors with “a very broad spectrum” of tech-related questions.

“I was teaching this older woman how to text people, and the first thing that she did was text her daughter,” Middleton recalled. “And I thought that was really sweet, and it just made me feel really, really happy.”

This year’s eighth-graders were responsible for the idea of opening a tech support clinic. The idea seemed like a perfect fit for the Girl Scout Silver Award, the organization’s top honor.

“It has to be something that helps your community,” Cadette Tara Udani explained. “And so for us, that was teaching elderly in our community how to use their technology better.”

AARP reports that 83% of Americans between the ages of 50 and 64 own a smartphone. Sammis’ grandmother is one of them. Fortunately, Sammi gained important experience teaching her grandmother how to use her new smart device.

“I realized that you have to go super slow and steady in order for them to process all the information,” Sammis said.

The girls’ adviser, who happens to work for AARP, was quick to echo this advice. She also suggested the girls survey elderly cell phone users in their community to better understand the struggles they were experiencing with their technology.

The Girl Scouts spent their time at the user group helping seniors both individually, spending up to an hour with each person in attendance.

Nancy Taylor, 90, left the user group having learned to text on her Android smartphone.

“Those girls were just marvelous,” Taylor, a great-grandmother of four, said. “They were all set up and ready for us and had a very mature attitude about answering our questions, and they were magnificent.”

In partial fulfillment of the Silver Awards’ requirement to create sustainable results, attendees were provided with a take-home “cheat sheet” to reinforce the skills they had learned. The event was so successful that the Girl Scouts hope to hold more user groups in the near future.

“Pretty much everybody around our age, we all grew up with this kind of technology, but my grandparents, I know, definitely did not,” Middleton added. “I think that this is really important to do, just to help everybody stay safe and stay well-educated.”

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