Tallahassee Senior Center takes to Zoom to keep seniors connected

Published: May. 25, 2020 at 9:08 PM EDT
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By: Jacob Murphey | WCTV Eyewitness News

May 25, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – Finding ways to stay connected is more important than ever. The Tallahassee Senior Center plays a large part in many lives. So when the coronavirus pandemic forced it to close, its leaders turned to video chat services like Zoom.

For several weeks now, the Senior Center's in-person courses have been beaming into senior's homes. People who perhaps weren't tech-savvy before are becoming quick learners.

WCTV recently dropped in on the "Hands on Art History" class. Instructor Mark Fletcher said his students aren't letting the digital barrier diminish their creativity as they learn about great artists and produce their own work.

"We look at people who went before, and see how they approached art," he said, adding that Zoom screen-sharing features make comparing and critiquing artwork quite easy.

One student in the class said it was a highlight of her day.

"Otherwise I'd be sitting around being a slug," she said. "It motivates me to be creative and do art."

Robin Gray is a student in this class but also teaches a separate class. She said she had her doubts this could work.

"My trepidation about doing art on Zoom was it wouldn't be interactive enough, but I think that's really been shown to be something we can do, both working on our own art and interacting with each other," Gray said.

This class is just one example of seniors expanding their comfort zones with technology. The Florida State Institute for Successful Longevity is helping that effort.

Director Neil Charness said the ISL has been working to make sure local seniors don't feel "socially distanced."

"A lot of seniors are at home, by themselves, they don't have anybody else," he said.

"They don't have anyone else to guide them through something."

Last month, the institute launched several step-by-step guides on how to use Zoom. The goal was to recruit capable seniors and have them teach others.

Hans Meyer is one of FSU's top IT minds. He recently started helping the Senior Center give more seniors the knowledge to connect through Zoom.

"This becomes, in many respects, a lifeline to know there's a community out there," Meyer said.

"Once I get them on Zoom, and we can see each other, it actually becomes very easy."

Back in the art class, Gray encouraged anyone that feels isolated to reach out and try to find a solution, perhaps in art.

"Any kind of class like this brings people out and gives them energy to do something artistic," she said.

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