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  • Di von Essen

Connecting Generations Through Digital Mentorship


digital literacy
High school mentors supporting learners at The Place

In the ever-evolving digital landscape, The Place: Charlestown Community Centre has embarked on an innovative initiative that not only equips seniors with essential technological skills but also fosters transformative intergenerational connections.

 

Made possible through funding support from the Good Things Foundation as part of the Australian Government’s Be Connected Program, The Place has created a platform where older and younger generations can learn from one another, forging a deeper sense of community and mutual understanding. The Place's Community and Intergenerational Digital Exchange (cDEX and iDEX) trains high school students and community members to become digital mentors, empowering them to share their knowledge and expertise with individuals over the age of 50.


The program is built on the recognition that digital literacy is a two-way street. While seniors receive guidance on navigating the complexities of modern technology, the younger mentors gain invaluable lessons in patience, empathy, and effective communication—skills that will serve them well in their personal and professional lives.


This intergenerational exchange chiefly addresses the digital divide but also breaks down age-related barriers, fostering a strong sense of community and shared purpose. During the latest round of the program, 112 mentors from five high schools and the local community invested over 89 hours of their time, providing personalised support to 77 seniors. These mentors taught their learners everything from using health and transportation apps to adjusting device accessibility settings and exploring virtual tours.


However, the true beauty of this program lies in the mutual benefit for mentors and learners. As seniors share their life experiences and wisdom, the younger generation gains a deeper appreciation for the richness of their

elders' perspectives. Simultaneously, the seniors benefit from the patience and enthusiasm of their mentors, who guide them through the complexities of digital technology with unwavering support.


High school mentors supporting learners at The Place

“The program's impact extends far beyond mere technical skills,” said Cristelle Govender, Centre Manager of The Place.


“It creates a sense of belonging and purpose for both generations, fostering social connections and combating the isolation that often accompanies aging or youth disconnection. Mentors and learners alike recognise the value of this shared journey, with many expressing gratitude for the opportunity to overcome the digital divide."


The Place's Partners Day Celebration held on the 25th of May was a testament to the program's success. Mentors and learners gathered to celebrate their achievements and the bonds they had forged. This event served as a reminder that true community development transcends age and technological barriers and that intergenerational connections can shape a more digitally inclusive community.


The Place hopes to continue the provision of this program in the coming year. If you or your high school would like to be involved, contact The Place on (02) 4032 5500 or email programsassistant@theplacecharlestown.org.au.

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