Evgeniia Kostina (left) and Bev Mallett are part of an online digital literacy program in Kelowna. In January, Project Literacy Kelowna will be expanding its reach to Lake Country. - Contributed

Senior online literacy project expanding to Lake Country

Project Literacy Kelowna will be teaching seniors in Lake Country about the online world

Project Literacy Kelowna is expanding its reach to include other areas in the Central Okanagan.

Seniors have been offered an online literacy program in Kelowna for the past year. Through it, they learn how to navigate the online world, whether it’s sending an email, setting up on social media accounts, or telling the difference between a real email or a spam email, said executive director Paul Zuurbier.

Starting in January, the non-profit will start a pilot project for seniors in Lake Country. In September, a larger program will be launched, he said.

“The model that we use that is really successful is that we do a one to one community learning program,” Zuurbier said. “The learning is totally tailored to the learner and what they want to learn.

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“There’s a lot of safety issues seniors are concerned about and with mobile (devices) like with iPhones and tablets. We decode some the acronyms like LOL and BTW they might not be familiar with.”

Together with the Lake Country Health Planning Society and other senior centres in the district, Lake Country seniors will be able to benefit from the tutoring.

“We do what’s called a matching process where we match them individually and we arrange for them a place to meet in Lake Country,” Zuurbier said.

The lesson length is also completely dependent on the learner.

“Sometimes four meetings, it’s that quick and sometimes it lasts six months. They’ll go from one thing to another to another digitally,” he said.

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“It’ll build awareness amongst seniors in the programs against those scams. One of our mandates is to help the vulnerable population and there are a lot of seniors are living in isolation and don’t get out as much as they should. But at least if they have a higher level of comfort in engaging online that they can Skype and they can text and they can Facebook, they can be a little more connected to a community they otherwise wouldn’t have access to.”

The non-profit is currently collaborating with the other centres and Project Literacy gets referrals through them, but those who are interested in the program can inquire through the Lake Country Health Planning Society, Winfield Senior Citizen’s community centre and Lake Country Lodge Retirement and Care Community, Zuurbier said.

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