Dec. 16, 2022
Seniors helping seniors
The struggle to adapt to new technology and ever-changing devices is real. As we age, the challenge of keeping up with the latest smartphone can feel daunting and, oftentimes, insurmountable. A group of Upper St. Clair High School seniors hoped to alleviate those frustrations for the township’s senior citizens.
For the second year in a row, high school seniors visited with local senior citizens to assist them with their smartphones (and even a couple flip phones). The students dropped in on the weekly United Senior Citizens program on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022, at the McLaughlin Run Road Activity Center.
Brooke Tarcson, head of activities for Upper St. Clair High School, recruited the student volunteers, which included seniors Justin Allen, Michael Barbarita, Anthony Ho, Reagan McGregor, Nikhil Misra, Ava Pasquini, Jocie Rullo and Michael Stalder.
“Our students are always eager to help others in our community. A quick ask to just one quickly resulted in eight highly-qualified and enthusiastic volunteers,” Mrs. Tarcson said. “I love any event where our students can interact with our community. Our students have so much knowledge to share beyond what they have learned from their classes here at USCHS.”
The students’ eagerness to assist may have been outmatched by the excitement of the awaiting senior citizens.
“The older adults love to have the students help them because they know they are smartphone experts,” Paula Henderson, coordinator of the United Senior Citizens program, said. “Many of their grandchildren do not live close by or don’t have the time to assist them. They appreciate the undivided attention the students give them.”
The eight students assisted with a wide-range of issues, including using the flashlight and camera as well as managing emails, texts, settings and notifications. The app Find My Phone was added to the phones of one couple who often find themselves searching endlessly for their devices. Creating Bitmoji characters in the likeness of the older adults was a popular request for several.
“The most common challenges are locating and retrieving their emails and messages and loading games on their phone,” Mrs. Henderson said. “They use their phones to share photos with each other.”
The students enjoyed hearing the older citizens' stories of their youth and hope they continue to practice their new technology skills. Senior Jocie Rullo's advice is to "keep trying and to use Siri as a tool to help navigate the phone."
As noted by everyone’s smiles, Mrs. Henderson and Mrs. Tarcson see this event as a win-win for the older adults and high school students.
“The students are involved in helping in their community and the older adults are reassured that they are important and respected,” Mrs. Henderson said.
Mrs. Tarcson hopes that both students and adults note the positive takeaways from their time together.
“I hope the students learned that our USC senior citizens are lifelong learners willing to tackle new technology and keep connected to our ever-changing world,” Mrs. Tarcson said. “And, I hope the senior citizens learned that our high school students are patient, polite, kind, and always willing to take time out of their day to help.”
The United Senior Citizens program is coordinated through the Township of Upper St. Clair Department of Recreation & Leisure Services. The program offers weekly activities to entertain, educate and enhance the lives of seniors within the community.