Category Archives: Digital Inclusion

Celebrating Age with Silver Surfers

Flor McGillicuddy – Grandad in Chief with the boys from Ballyroan School

The 10th annual Age Action Silver Surfer awards were held yesterday at Dublin City University (DCU) and what an inspiring event it was! The image of the overall winner 95 year old Florence McGillicuddy is all over the newspapers today. He was the winner of the Golden IT category for people over 85 years of age, and then went on to take the ultimate prize. Flor is a ‘grandad’ to boys at Ballyroan School in Dublin. He runs a blog at grandadonline.com on which he records his memoirs for his young friends. There you will find some of his activities and ways in which he interacts with the scholars. I think this must surely rank as the most inspirational winner of the title to date. It would be good to see similar inter generational projects all lover the country!

An Acorn tablet was presented to each winner. It is designed specially for older users to help overcome social isolation and open up communications using safe and secure platforms. It is designed around secure Apps covering Independence, Health, Finance, Communications and Security and has been extensively tested by groups of older users. It sounds to me like a wonderful idea and will be most welcome when it comes to the market in July. Another sponsor of the awards was Doro Phones – smartphones designed with older users in mind, another splendid idea. It’s great to see the technological needs of older people being facilitated by these companies.

The President of Dublin City University, Professor Brian MacCraith

DCU is a particularly appropriate venue for these awards as it was the world’s first Age Friendly University. The President of DCU, Prof. Brian MacCraith, whose mother will reach her 100th birthday this week, established the ‘Age Friendly’ status in 2012 and is proud of the fact that this model has now been replicated in 50 other establishments across the world.

The entire event was presided over by the very genial radio personality Shay Byrne who was chivalrous and delightfully entertaining. An excellent choice as host! Paddy Connolly, CEO of Age Action reinforced the main messages of the organization – challenging stereotypes, embracing new challenges and empowering older people.

So, back to the real stars of the show- the finalists!.

First up was the category for people who have just discovered IT and have enhanced their lives as a result.

Sr Barbara Molloy hails from Galway and had to leave her work in Egypt when her congregation considered it unsafe for her to remain. On her return to Ireland she got online and found she could keep in touch with friends she had to leave behind when she mastered email and apps.

Patrick Douglas from Clonmel has discovered internet technology and uses it to keep up with his former army colleagues who served in the Lebanon.

From Limerick, we met Patrick Begley who does work with the Southhill Community and George Virgo who hails from Cork .

Eleanor Lynch who has found a new lease of life using IT.

Eleanor Lynch from Togher came out winner. Eleanor was profoundly deaf but following a cochlear implant she has embraced technology to enhance her life. She is now never far from her phone and her laptop. Well done Eleanor!

The next category ‘Hobbies on the Net’ had some fascinating finalists!

81-year -old Stan Philips from Ferrybank uses his digital skills to enhance his poetry and music collections, while Corkman Tim Hegarty has taken up Furniture Restoration since retirement and uses music and TED talks to keep him motivated while he works. 83-year-old Kevin McDermott has a body of work on Youtube and the Liberties History Group, ranging in age from 60 to 89, research local history and genealogy and are currently undertaking a project on Quakers in their very old part of Dublin. All are doing excellent work, but the winners chose The Three Paddys from Mallow as winners. Paddy McAuliffe, Tobin and Buckley learned filming and editing skills that they now use to film and record the life stories of local residents. Excellent work!

Margaret Culloty making a huge difference to Co Kerry

The Community Champion IT Award brought finalists from Meath, where Ita Healy does trojan work for the age friendly town of Trim, from Dublin where Roderick Hanley is the chief ‘techy’ person in Kiltipper Woods Residential Centre. Sr Catherine Kelly, an 82 year old in Kilcock Co Kidare has her community up to speed with laptops and ipads and smart phones while in Millstreet Co Cork Séan Radley runs the Millstreet .ie website as well as the local museum when he is not busy editing music and being an historian. Margaret Culloty, 77, from Co Kerry was the winner in this category for her selfless work in keeping online records for over 3,000 participants in the Kerry Community Games. Well done Margaret!

Sr Margaret Kiely is a volunteer wtih Age Action in Cork

Tutors are vitally important to Age Action as they are the crucial links for overcoming digital exclusion in older people. We have two categories here – Tutor(s) of the Year had some impressive contenders for the award. Brian Lennox of Dublin has guided 79 learners on the Getting Started programe, as well as volunteering at the LauraLyn childrens hospice. We then heard about Michael Dangerfield from Malahide who has patiently steered 72 Getting Started students through the course and Leslie Thornton who has tutored 88 older people. The dedicated staff of Deloitte Ireland have shared their expertise with over 100 older learners. Amazing and life changing contributions from them all! The winner of this category was Sr Margaret Kiely a retired addiction Councillor and now an Age Action volunteer, based in Cork who enthusiastically helps older learners, keeps excellent records and produces certificates for those who complete the courses.

Bandon Grammar School who pass on valuable IT skills to older people in their community.

Schools are also involved in upskilling older people – Transition year students in 27 schools have so far had 680 trainees. It was so nice to see so many young people at this event this year and huge thank you to all of them! The schools making it to the short list were Bantry Community College in Co Cork, Newpark Comprehensive in Blackrock Co Dublin, aided and abetted by the Gardaí from Blackrock police station. The title of Schools IT Tutors of the year went to the students of Bandon Grammar School- well done to them!

Huge thanks to Age Action and all their sponsors for making this such a wonderfully positive event, and a thousand congratulations to all those finalists who have inspired us all.

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Filed under Age Action Ireland, Ageing in Ireland, Ageism, Digital Inclusion, Ireland

Sensational Silver Surfers 2018

I am always thrilled to get an invite to attend the annual Age Action Silver Surfer Awards! I attended this year’s awards on Tuesday last in the Eir building in Dublin. The sponsors are internet providers Open Eir who excelled in hosting a real celebration of older internet users and those who support them across the country.

I was absolutely blown away by the achievements of the nominees and in awe of the way that silver surfing has developed over the years. It was especially great to see so many  ‘older’older people feature as finalists! My very first Age Action Silver Surfer event was 7 years ago when I was a winner in my category. Since then the categories have changed, people are no longer on dial-up. With fast internet speeds available, smartphones and a myriad of apps, the internet has become even more user-friendly and life-enhancing for older people.

John Church, Age Action’s CEO, opened the proceedings welcoming the finalists who are challenging ageist stereotypes and making the internet work for them.

Carolann Lennon CEO of Eir commended the ways the finalists are embracing connectivity and building online communities as well as improving their own lives.

The Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly T.D. began the ceremony. He said that by developing technological skills older people increase their independence and confidence. He praised the Age Action Getting Started programme and Eir for providing a nationwide mobile and broadband service that enhances lives. Hi

Broadcaster, fashion designer and TV  personality Brendan Courtney was the host for the awards ceremony.

The finalists in each of the six categories were loudly praised and warmly welcomed by the audience.

Getting Started IT Award – Awarded to an older person who is new to technology and
has overcome challenges to become an IT user.

Tom with his assistang and trusty Guide Dog!

Tom Langan from Renmore County Galway was the winner. Tom is totally blind yet he embraces technology in many ways – he listens to Audio Books on Audible, converts printed word to either sound or braille using KNFB reader, connects with sighted volunteers for visual assistance using  ‘Be my Eyes’ app and uses a dedicated GPS system suitable for visual impairment to get about. He encourages and assists other visually impaired people to get the most from their devices.

 

Hobbies on the Net Award

Margaret Byrne from Tallaght Co Dublin took this award for her crochet, jewellery and knitting activities on Facebook and her blog ‘The Crafty Irish Girl‘. She connects with the craft-making community and shares her patterns and ideas with her readers as well as providing online tutorials! She loves Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram. A busy, busy lady!

IT Tutor of the year.

Many individuals and groups volunteer with Age Action. They offer thousands of hours tuition on the Age Action Getting Started programme, helping older people to get online.  Individuals can be school going teenagers or seniors themselves or may be part of a workforce. There were three awards in this category. The Schools Award went to the girls of the Dominican College, Griffith Avenue, Dublin. I have a particular soft spot for intergenerational interaction and I was delighted for them!

The individual IT Tutor or of the year was Marie Hogan, from Birdhill Co Tipperary. Marie began tutoring when working in Milford Day Care centre and has continued her excellent work in the Tipperary Nursing home where she now works.

The winners of the Corporate Award were the volunteer tutors from the VMware company in County Cork who have given over 1500 hours of their spare time to the Getting Started programme.

All these volunteers are at the heart of the Age Action programme to help older people become comfortable users of technology.  Their contribution is priceless!

IT Enthusiast Award

This is for an older person who embraces the internet or technology with a sense of fun and adventure and 76-year-old Mary Dunne was the winner. Mary is a member of the Ardee County Louth Active Retirement Group and thanks to her, 80% of the membership of that group uses the internet! She handles group bookings in Ireland and across Europe and is a big fan of Pinterest when looking for ideas to decorate her local church. Her 6 children and 16 grandchildren are all on Whats App and Mary likes to use Bet Finder for backing horses! Mary is a promoter of internet safety and aims to alleviate fears of some older people around using the internet. A worthy winner!

The Community Champion Award is for an older person who uses the internet to the benefit of their community locally or nationally.

The very impressive winner of this award was 98-year old David Rowe from Sandyford in Dublin. David keeps a close eye on planning applications in his area on behalf of An Taisce. He prepares submissions for policymakers and contributes articles to his local community magazine as well as designing covers. He has edited 8 books since his ‘retirement’ and uses IT for the benefit of a number of voluntary organizations.  David is a real treasure in his community!

One of my favourite awards is the Golden IT Award for someone over the age of 80 who uses technology to enhance their life.

From Carrigtwohill, Co Cork Gordon Lawson came to grips with technology in his 80s. Now aged 99, Gordon enjoys staying downloading music, online banking and social media to stay in touch with friends and family. As Secretary of his local church group he keeps minutes up to date and has downloaded flight simulators to keep in touch with his former career as a pilot with the RAF!  Gordon loves to help others by using technology and he coordinates the delivery of the Meals on Wheels service locally, even delivering meals to people older than himself!

From these 6 category winners, an overall winner of the OpenEir Age Action Silver Surfer Award was selected. And the overall winner was…

Margaret Byrne, who had picked up the Hobbies on the Net Award!

IMG_3600.jpgNot only does she do her craftwork online, but she also campaigns for survivors of mesh implant complications through her online support group ‘Mesh Survivors Ireland’ which she co-founded. (Mesh implants were seen as a ‘cure’ for postnatal incontinence, but many women who received them have been incapacitated as a result). The group provides support to 250 members through online contact as well as at meetings and through support groups. Margaret’s campaigning has led the Minister for Health Simon Harris to agree to carry out an investigation into the impact of mesh implants.

 

Congratulations Margaret and congratulations to all the category winners and the nominees – all are truly inspirational as they continue to challenge the ageist stereotype. These wonderful role models are improving their own quality of life and make a huge difference to their communities.

I hesitated to make this post as the quality of the images is not great, but I decided to go ahead in celebration of the wonderful work of the Age Action Getting Started Programme. Age is no longer a barrier and if you or someone you know could benefit from free one to one tuition to broaden their horizons and to connect them to the world, please do contact Age Action by clicking on the link above.

For excellent images of the event see here.

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Filed under Age Action Ireland, Ageing in Ireland, Ageism, Digital Inclusion, Ireland