By Vic Sutton, Chair, SWNA Task Force on Workforce Development & Adult Education

Computers for Seniors class for AARP members at River Park, with instructor Jenelle Leonard; Photo by Perry Klein

Computer for Kids classes have been taking place at the James Creek computer lab for years now, using desktop computers. They started in 2007, as an initiative by Thelma Jones, who chairs the Youth Activities Task Force of the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly (SWNA).

The classes are taught by Gerald Brown and Jenelle Leonard, with support from Jones, Cheryl Moore, Bonnie Sutton and the author. Students learn keyboarding skills, and then some basic uses of the computers. If they attend regularly, they get to take the computers home when they graduate.

At one point Christine Spencer, president of the Resident Council at James Creek, observed “computers for kids is all very well, but what about computers for seniors?”

She had a point. The SWNA Task Force on Workforce Development and Adult Education took heed, and looked into how to organize computer training classes for seniors.

The Task Force is currently running two series’ of eight weekly classes. One is at Syphax Gardens, for seniors from Syphax and from James Creek, which started on April 16. The other is at River Park, for AARP members. This class started on May 3.

There are ten seniors in each class.

The seniors’ classes are taught by Jenelle Leonard, with technical support from Perry Klein and Jamal Jones.

They commence with an introduction to the notebook computer—starting from basics, like how to plug it in and turn it on and off—and then going on to using Windows 10 and the basics of applications like Microsoft Word.

The classes have had terrific support. Rhonda Hamilton, President of the Syphax Gardens Resident Council, is hosting the classes at Syphax Gardens, and Betty Jean Tolbert Jones, President of the Southwest Waterfront AARP chapter, has helped to set up the classes at River Park.

Klein, who chairs the SWNA Technology Task Force, received a donation of 50 notebook computers from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which Neo Morake has been refurbishing. Jamal Jones has been setting up the notebooks at both of the classes, bringing a hotspot so that participants can access the Internet. SWNA’s Computers for Seniors Class also received a 2019 Education Award from the Southwest Waterfront Chapter of the AARP in support of the classes.

Helen Mulkeen has kindly been storing the computers that are being used at River Park.

After four classes the participants get to take the notebook computers home, to be able to practice what they have been learning, and after the full series of eight classes they get to keep them.

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