Bunbury Library e-learning officer Matthew Wearne, Bunbury PCYC course co-ordinator Amanda Ferguson and library community engagement officer Jacqueline Quadrio watch as student Kaiowas Carroll helps Steve McGavin with the computer. Credit: Ailish Delaney/South Western Times
It was a two-way learning curve for local senior citizens and Bunbury PCYC young people when they took part in a mentoring program at the City of Bunbury library recently.
The young people, aged between 14 and 17, participants in PCYC’s Leadership Certificate course, were invited to be involved in the ‘Be Connected’ Mentor Program at Bunbury Public Library, with funding from a Be Connected Grant from the Australian Government. It was a great opportunity for our young people to complete the volunteering for community work component of their leadership course.
The program focused on supporting members of the community who struggle with technology, including the elderly and people with disabilities or language barriers. It included things like helping someone with internet searches, application forms online, online shopping, resumes, job applications, use of smartphones and laptops.
The young people learned how to support someone through their first steps using technology. This meant learning how to make what might seem a daunting task for seniors into a fun and interesting session to spark interest in improving their digital skills to assist them in their everyday lives. They also discovered how the use of technological jargon could prevent someone from learning, along with the importance of patience and sensitivity towards the person being mentored.
“The youth from PCYC really got onboard with the message of Be Connected, which is to break down barriers that are excluding many Australians from their families, communities and vital services which are increasing only available online,” said City of Bunbury Libraries Lead Digital Mentor, Matthew Wearne.
Bunbury PCYC trainer Amanda Ferguson said, “This was a great opportunity for our young people to learn how to mentor someone who is not as tech savvy as they may be. The funding also enabled them to obtain police clearances which, together with the experience in mentoring, will help them with employment opportunities in the future.”
All the young participants, who had initially been disengaged from school and at risk, graduated from the Leadership Certificate Course with flying colours, thanks to the support of local groups including the City of Bunbury Library.
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