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Wednesday, July 28, 2021
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(Courtesy of Age Friendly Teaneck) A new community collaboration in Teaneck seeks to help non-tech-savvy older residents cross the “digital divide” through televised training programs and individualized tutoring sessions.

The Opening New Digital Doors program features a series of cable-access television episodes that are airing afternoons on Optimum Cablevision Channel 77 and FIOS Channel 47, Teaneck’s two public-access television channels.

The program is a joint project of Age-Friendly Teaneck, the F.O.R.U.M at Teaneck High School, the Teaneck Public Library, and the Township of Teaneck.

The training videos, which are narrated by Age-Friendly Teaneck Project Coordinator EJ Vizzi, began airing earlier this year and also can be viewed on Age-Friendly Teaneck’s YouTube Channel.

More episodes will continue to be produced through the spring while the project sponsors are developing a one-on-one technology assistance program for interested older adults in Teaneck.

Teaneck students who have volunteered for this community-service program are participating in four training sessions aimed at helping them learn techniques for teaching technology skills to older residents who have had less exposure to the internet and digital communications platforms.

The older adult tutoring sessions are expected to begin in June, and interested Teaneck residents are encouraged to seek details or express their interest immediately. Visit https://www.agefriendlyteaneck.org/openingnewdigitaldoors.html to sign up, or call 201-530-6756.

Technology novices should first tune in to the televised episodes, which are aired in the afternoons, following taped broadcasts of Rodda Recreation Center fitness and activities program. The program times and details are available on the Township’s website: https://bit.ly/3osWSh5.

“We are so excited to be working with the library, the schools and the Township on this program, which is so needed in this time of social distancing,” said Elizabeth Davis, project director of Age-Friendly Teaneck. “Older residents risk becoming isolated from their extended communities of friends and family if they don’t learn how to better use their phones and computers to stay connected and engaged.”

The recorded episodes will feature advice and demonstrations both for beginners and those with moderate digital skills, on topics such as video chat services, telemedicine, online banking, participating in virtual Township government meetings, and on Teaneck Public Library’s many digital offerings

“Teaneck Public Library has a rich and diverse collection of digital offerings that could enrich older residents’ lives at a time when many are still not comfortable gathering in person,” said Teaneck Library Director Allen McGinley. “We have been devoting much of our staff’s time, and many of our resources, to making sure all Teaneck residents learn how to access digital materials such as e-books and e-audiobooks, streaming platforms and online learning tools that are available to our patrons.”

The televised series will include episodes on how to get a library card and borrow materials online, as well as offering step-by-step instructions on navigating the Teaneck Public Library website to access electronic and audiobooks through Libby, by Overdrive; movie and entertainment streaming platforms such as Hoopla and Kanopy; and learning platforms such as LinkedIn Learning and Niche Academy.

Teenagers who regularly volunteer at the library, and others who participate in the F.O.R.U.M. at Teaneck High School, are among the first who have volunteered to serve as technology tutors.

“This is such a great intergenerational opportunity for our students,” said Dr. Christopher Irving, superintendent of Teaneck Public Schools. “It helps them to give back to their community while gaining a better perspective on lives lived before the advent of technology—something they now take for granted.

“Through the F.O.R.U.M. program at Teaneck High School, these students are excited to use what they learn in our program in order to help their own grandparents and older relatives become more comfortable with technology,” Irving continued. “I want to thank all of the partners and Ms. Yvonne Witter, employment/community outreach counselor, the F.O.R.U.M. at Teaneck High School, for her leadership in this beneficial program.”

The teenage tutors will connect with older adults via phone or video conferencing, and the sessions will be supervised by Witter, Teen Services Librarian Jacqueline Quinn, Age-Friendly Teaneck High School Internship Curriculum Coordinator Ellen Rand, and other adult project leaders.

Township officials are delighted to have the new technology programs airing on the Township-administered public-access stations.

“These digital training programs offer valuable new educational content for our public-access stations, which are also running daily recordings of the older adult fitness and activity classes not being held in person at the Rodda Center because of the pandemic,” said Township Manager Dean Kazinci.

“As the first community in Bergen County to join the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities, we are always looking for ways to meet the evolving needs of our older residents,” Kazinci said. “Co-sponsoring this project is just one example of that.”

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