Wholeschool Portal | Home 22 October 2018
St Mary's Celebrates Digital Age Project



St Marys High School staff and pupils embraced ‘The Digital Age Project’ – an initiative to bring digital and social inclusion to older people in Northern Ireland. This initiative, was funded by the Big Lottery Fund NI ‘Reaching out, Connecting Older People Programme’.
Year 13 pupils volunteered to work alongside learners from the local Ballyholland Sunshine Club to become more confident in using technology and supporting them to apply their newly acquired skills in their everyday lives.
In liaison with St Marys ICT staff, the project was established in the school and co-ordinated by Linking Generations NI with sessions overseen by Paul O’Hare, computer tutor for partner organisation Ignite IT. The aim was to bring generations in communities together to build positive relationships and enable older participants to develop their digital and online skills. The Sunshine members, supported by the students, developed new skills and worked side by side creating content for a website, showcasing their life stories, local events and shared activities/skill swaps.
Paul O’Hare computer tutor said “As the sessions progressed it was clear to see that the older learners were becoming more proficient in the use of tablets and smartphones, they said that the younger learners lack of fear of computers was an inspiration to them. The younger learners clearly enjoyed the opportunity to teach. As much as the participants gained from the experience of teaching and learning from one another, they’ve equally enjoyed the social element and will miss their Wednesday club.”
Mrs Williams, Head of ICT stated “St Marys students found the project very satisfying and enjoyed sharing their IT knowledge with others and seeing individuals understand and become confident in using websites and apps relating to their specific interests. Also the students benefited from the wealth of experience and advice from the older generation and many friendships were formed”.
At the recent Newry and Mourne Active Ageing Day, the students were again on hand to support older attendees struggling with smartphones, ipads and tablets, not to mention Facebook pages.
So inspired are St Mary’s pupils, that some are now involved in sharing their IT knowledge with students from Rathore Special School and plans are underway to celebrate these initiatives through the BBC School Report Day in 2018.
The Digital Age Project IT toolkit which is a free, easy to use resource, can be downloaded by any individual or organisation from www.digital-age.org.uk.