STRAIT AREA: Provincial funding for a program teaching technology to seniors will result in the start of the project in the Strait area.

Last week the provincial government announced its approval of a $50,000 grant to the Empowering Seniors Through Technology project. The grant is funded through SHIFT: Nova Scotia’s Action Plan for an Aging Population.

The project is administered by @NS, a network which provides communities and individuals with access to technology, enables the hiring of trainers to provide workshops and individual sessions for older adult learners.

The regions chosen for the project include aging and rural populations, as well as large percentages of potential clients from diverse backgrounds including Indigenous Peoples, African Nova Scotians, Acadians and Nova Scotians living on low incomes. Areas like Antigonish and Guysborough counties were among those identified as having the greatest need for this service.

Charlotte Janes, @NS President told The Reporter the areas were chosen by the board of directors, with input from individual sites. The group selects areas where the program has the best chance of success.

“Trainers are placed in an area where there is a demand, but also where there is a volunteer to supervise and coordinate their efforts in that community,” Janes explained. “The trainers we have in place will often cover a large area and work in multiple sites.”

As a result of this funding, eight trainers will be hired and tablets and laptops will be purchased for training purposes.

In these areas, @NS has a volunteer in each community willing to manage the program.

“The one in Antigonish is coordinated through the Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library while the program in Guysborough County is managed by a volunteer [who] has been working with this type of program for many years,” Janes noted.

Supporting social connections and aging in place are identified as priorities in SHIFT: Nova Scotia’s Action Plan for an Aging Population.

This is the third year that @NS has received funding from the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage to empower seniors through technology.

Although other parts of the region have been left out of this program, Janes said she would be thrilled to expand.

“We would love to expand this and other @NS programs Inverness and Richmond counties,” Janes said. “I’m confident the service would be well received in these areas. What we need is volunteer support to help manage and coordinate delivery of the program.

“I would urge anyone with an interest in volunteering to support @NS’s work to reach out to us so we can talk more about how to make this happen.”

@NS, formerly called the Community Technology Network of Nova Scotia, was formed in 2016 to enhance and empower individuals and communities through access to technology

Janes added that the program has been “very popular” where it’s been offered.

“We have heard incredible feedback from participants who tell us they are more confident and comfortable using technology, and feel more connected to their friends, families and communities,” she added. “We hope to continue to offer this program in Nova Scotia for years to come.” To learn more about seniors groups in Nova Scotia, check out: https://porthawkesburyreporter.com/seniors-groups-stakeholders-meet/.