PORT HARDY — Reaching into a handbag, Lynda Allison extracted a variety of electronic gadgets and arrayed them on a table at Hardy Bay Seniors Centre.
“I need help figuring out the programming on my cell phone,” Allison said. “And I need to find out how to look at the pictures in my camera after I take them. And I need to find out how to make the sound come out of the computer in these headphones.”
Allison was in the right place for some answers, as members of the North Island Youth Leadership Council invaded the seniors centre Saturday afternoon for their third tech workshop.
Pairing up with seniors, the teens helped guide them through the intricacies of cellphone and digital camera programming, computer troubleshooting and iPod management.
It was part of a larger program designed to do a lot more than ease the transition of seniors and elders to modern technology.
“In part, we’re trying to bridge the gap between elders and youth,” said Michel Therien of the Ministry of Child and Family Development. “Some of the benefits we’ve seen is that the relationships between youth and elders have flourished. There’s a lot of repect and also a lot of fun when they get together.
“The relationship aspect is huge.”
In return, the seniors and elders of the North Island have helped sponsor the annual Youth Leadership Conferences held in the region.
And the program could expand dramatically in the near future.
Earlier in the week, Vancouver Island Health Authority and MCFD outreach workers completed nearly three months of work on its Connecting Hands to Bridge Generations initiative and submitted it to the province in its application for a $200,000 grant.
The creation of the initiative incorporated nine North Island Communities, including six First Nations communities, and involved meetings between youth, elders and outreach workers in each of them.
“Each community will work on issues specific to its people,” Therrien said. “Then we’ll bring everyone together in a larger conference to share what they’ve done.”
Saturday’s workshop included a lunch break featuring a large crock pot of soup made by the youths, and participants both young and old share tables and tales over the food.
“I learned a few things,” Hardy Bay senior Gay Galbraith said of a session with her new cell phone. “And I hope to learn more after lunch.”