Students teach tech literacy to older adults at Riverdale Senior Services Tech Expo


Courtesy of Conasia Watts

Josh Shuster, Staff Writer

The Center for Community Values and Action (CCVA) hosted a Tech Expo in partnership with Riverdale Senior Services (RSS) last Friday and Saturday, where older adults familiarized themselves with technology through student-led workshops. The workshops focused on how to access e-books, stream video content, avoid scams, use virtual reality and AI, and even play online games like Mario Kart.

186 older adults attended the expo over the two days, alongside 23 student volunteers in grades 8 through 11, CCVA head Dr. Kimberly Joyce-Bernard said. Many of the older adults were new to RSS and learned about the expo through a News 12 segment and Riverdale Press article, she said.

The idea for a Tech Expo with the RSS came from Lucy Peck (11). Peck initially proposed an idea of holding weekly tech literacy sessions for club members last year, but, due to the transportation challenge of bringing students to RSS and back, the idea developed into the Tech Expo. “Our goal was still to expose older adults to technology and help them become acclimated with it,” Peck said.

Although the RSS had already been implementing individual technology courses with funding from the city, the Tech Expo reached out to a wider range of older adults. RSS’s Director of Communications and Programming Margie Shustack presented the opportunity to the school to help host an event that could support older adults who have limited exposure to technology, Joyce-Bernard said.

At the Expo, older adults had fun playing video games on consoles like the Nintendo Switch and Xbox, Liam Kisling (11) said. “It got competitive — I saw different older adults going against each other and trying to beat each other.”

The video games also enabled students and older adults to connect with each other, Lily Sussman (9) said. “I loved getting to bond with the seniors. Seeing their excitement as they tried the new technologies was also exciting for me, and showed me that the help I was doing made an impact.” The line for the virtual reality booth was especially long, Sussman said.

Melissa Migdon (11) also hosted a scam prevention presentation for the older adults. “A lot of the older adults came up to us at the end and said, ‘this presentation has been very, very informative,’ ‘now I know how to avoid scams.’ I thought that was very successful,” Peck said.

The CCVA hopes to host the Tech Expo again next year and encourages new students to participate, Joyce-Bernard said.

Kisling is interested in another Tech Expo, especially if it features other technology, he said. “I would definitely come back and do it again.”