Key Takeaways

  • Every year, NISC's annual Programs of Excellence Awards honor and promote the outstanding programs offered by senior centers across the country.

  • Learn more about TechTalks, a 2021 Programs of Excellence Award Honorable Mention in the Technology category.

NISC Programs of Excellence 

  • Year Awarded: 2021
  • Programs of Excellence Name: Tech Talks
  • Hosting Organization: Ateaze Senior Center, Baltimore
  • Baltimore County Population: 849,316
  • Population 60+: 212,021
  • Senior Center Members: 1,000

About Tech Talks

In a partnership with local high school students and the senior center, what started as sessions on "How to" connect via Zoom and Webex evolved into step-by-step technology tutors connecting with older adults twice a month. The programs was especially valuable during the COVID pandemic, with everyone yearning to connect and learn new skills.

Program particpants learned to connect with friends and peers using the technology they already had. If they didn't have a computer, they were taught how to call into an online meeting. As the Tech Talks went on, high school student "tutors" began teaching older adults the ins and outs of email, how to use smartphones, and other topics submitted by the older adult participants. Students made YouTube videos to send out to older adults for later use.

Key takeaways from Tech Talks:

  • The topic can determine the size of the group of participants (2-7 participants at each session seemed the right number).
  • Engaging with high school students is beneficial for all. They come with ideas that your staff may not think of or have time to do.
  • Invite your staff to join the sessions. Even the staff learned more about Zoom than we had known before.
  • Open the programs broadly to older adults even if they are not part of your center.

About Ateaze Senior Center

The Ateaze Senior Center is part of the network of Baltimore County senior centers. Offerings include fitness classes, meals, painting and crafts, a weekly organized bike ride, travel opportunities, and a "Center Connection" program designed for people 60+ who need some extra support to participate in senior center activities.