Tech Challenged? Free Event to Help with Smart Phone, Computer Use

By Tania Soussan

The third annual 50+ Senior Tech Connect event promises to have it all — classes on how to avoid online scams, one-on-one tech help, prizes, and refreshments. Plus, it’s all available at no charge.

The event is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. April 19, at the Manzano Mesa Multigenerational Center, 501 Elizabeth SE. No registration is needed.

“We welcome anyone 50 and older,” said City of Albuquerque Senior Affairs director Anna Sanchez, adding that it’s an opportunity to showcase the importance of technology in older adults’ lives.

Many seniors feel isolated and struggle to remain connected to their communities and to other people, Sanchez said. “Technology is able to help maintain that connection.”

Technology can combat isolation as well as provide access to health care and banking services, grocery orders and deliveries, and even transportation.

The City is partnering with local nonprofits Adelante DiverseIT and Teeniors to put on the event, which is expected to attract about 350 people.

Adelante supports seniors, people with disabilities, and New Mexicans facing disadvantages. Adelante’s DiverseIT program is helping to address the digital divide and improve diversity in technology by supporting those who have been traditionally excluded from technology to get training. Instruction can include everything from the basics to in-depth information technology (IT) certifications for people with disabilities who are hoping to launch a career in IT.

“It’s important that everyone knows how to access and use technology in today’s world,” said Jill Beets, vice president of marketing for DiverseIT. “As a program working to increase diversity in tech, for example getting seniors and people with disabilities involved, Adelante DiverseIT is honored to be organizing this event with the City.”

An award-winning small business with a nonprofit arm, Teeniors has helped 6,000 older adults in Albuquerque, while providing meaningful paid, part-time work for dozens of youths along the way. Teeniors is composed of teens and young adults who have experience and expertise using technology. They empower seniors to use technology to connect with loved ones and to engage in the community through free monthly coaching at six senior centers and two multigenerational centers.

“It’s really a great opportunity for anyone to get customized, free one-on-one tutoring,” said Teeniors founder and CEO Trish Lopez. “We get everything from, “How do you turn on this thing?” to more advanced questions.”

The Teeniors themselves are “pretty awesome,” she said, adding that they range in age from 16 to 30 and come from all walks of life.

“You go from being underestimated and marginalized as a teenager to being the most appreciated person in the room,” Lopez said.

At the Senior Tech Connect event, the teens and young adults will help older adults who have smart phones and computers to navigate basic tasks such as attaching a photo to an email, using apps, and accessing websites.

Teeniors staff also will teach classes on social media, cyber-safety, how to access the local library online, and how to recognize the latest senior scams, including IRS and romance scams. Other topics will include smart phone tips, how to use ride share services, creating graphics with free software, and more.  Classes will last about 45 minutes, with time for questions.

“It’s a good opportunity for anyone to come, grab some snacks, and get good information that helps older adults in one place” and in a short timeframe, Lopez said.

More information is available by calling (505) 275-8731.

The City’s Senior Affairs staff aims to offer older adults a chance to be around other individuals who are like them in a comfortable and non-judgmental setting where they can “ask questions within the arms of our department,” Sanchez said.

“The one-on-one tech support sessions have become extremely popular because people want to bring their own instrument. They want to make sure it’s working for them,” she said.

In addition to Adelante and Teeniors, many city departments, community organizations and businesses will be on hand to provide information about how to access their services.

Anyone 50 and older who isn’t able to attend the Tech Connect event still can get help with smart phones, computers, and other technology at the City’s senior centers and multigenerational centers. Call 505-764-6400, visit cabq.gov/seniors or the website of their local senior center, or check out the senior centers’ monthly newsletters.

The City Department of Senior Affairs’ services also include social services, recreation, transportation, nutrition services, and volunteer programs.

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