Issue No. 2002/03
The Magic of Intergenerational Videoconferencing described by
by Mathias Fruhwirth, PACE 2000 International Foundation, Ottawa
4 February 2002, Ottawa, Canada
PACE 2000 International Foundation, is a registered charity in Canada, which promotes interactions between seniors and students. It has been operating an intergenerational videoconference network for the past four years.
The name PACE is a acronym for Programs for Autonomy
and Communication for the Elderly and the Foundation promotes
its mission by means of interactions between the elderly and youth
Creating an Inter-genersational Virtual Village
Videoconferencing has long been acknowledged as a means to overcome isolation due to geography. PACE 2000 calls its network videoconferencing approach the Intergenerational Virtual Village (IVV) It has proved to be effective in overcoming the social isolation of senior citizens as well. Social isolation of seniors has been linked to increased morbidity, and general ill health in seniors.
Special relationship between young and old
PACE 2000 videoconference programs exploit the special relationship between the young and old. The young participants share there vitality while the seniors contribute their accumulated wisdom. PACE 2000 has initiated and continues to produce a series one hour long, weekly and bi-weekly videoconference sessions featuring; cross cultural exchanges, recreational activities, educational exchanges as well as exercise and physiotherapy classes.
In each case senior citizens who would otherwise have limited opportunity to contribute are involved as participants to the community at large.
Student volunteers are also involved in each program as facilitators or intergenerational activity coordinators. The magic then materializes from the mix of technology and human relationships.
The seniors, who often shy away form modern technologies eagerly await their next opportunity to spend time with their young buddies. On numerous occasions the students have expressed the rewards of working with seniors in spite of their initial reluctance.
Some points of view from the senior citizens participating
in the PACE program.
Seniors are no less forthcoming of their feelings toward the videoconference sessions. Here are some examples:
"I like connecting with the children. It keeps me alert.
I also like the fact that I don't have to leave the Perley in
order to meet different people. I enjoy meeting people from all
over the world.
From residents of a seniors' residence in Ottawa Canada;
"In regards of the connection with immigrants, I think
you learn something from connecting with so many people. I like
to keep my brain working so I don't forget anything. This keeps
me alert. I like to go out and do and see things."
Corrine Sheen (88 yrs old) Perley Rideau Veteran's Health Centre
"I gives me a feeling of pride. As stupid as I am, I can
still serve a purpose in life when I speak with the children."
Ken Tyrrell (79 yrs old) Perley Rideau Veteran's Health Centre
Further examples of the seniors' reaction to these programs can be found at www.pace2000.org/forum.html
Further to the above, the Videoconferencing Intergenerational
Virtual Village (IVV) has grown into a full time operational intergenerational
network providing weekly educational, recreational, linguistic,
cross-cultural, and telehealth programs.
©1999 Fondation Internationale PACE 2000