An award-winning project which has seen Bournemouth school students help older people get online has received the government seal of approval.
Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude MP, made a special visit to Avonbourne College to learn all about its ‘digi steps’ programme.
The programme, which links up Year 8 students as buddies to older people to help them get online, has already won a Big Society Award, the British Interactive Media Association Award and a Diana Award.
During his visit, Francis Maude saw the programme in action as octogenarians Keren Tanswell and Robin Long received an online lesson from students Scarlett Tanswell and Cavell Green.
Mr Maude said: “This project encourages older people who may have felt intimidated by the internet to get involved with it.
“More and more activities will take place online in the future, including government services. This is an approach that ticks so many boxes.
“It gets young people into the habit of helping others because we need a strong society where young people grow up knowing that we all depend on each other.”
The Minister said he would like to see similar projects rolled out at schools across the country.
To make digi steps a huge success, the students have given up their free time to plan, market, present and run the course that they have devised themselves.
It provides older residents in Bournemouth one-to-one training where they are invited into school every Tuesday to get support with learning how to use the Internetand other technologies.
Executive headteacher at Avonbourne College, Debbie Godfrey-Phaure, said: “We were delighted to welcome Mr Maude to our school and show him the excellent partnership our young students are forging with older members in our community.
“It has been thrilling to see the difference our young people are making to other people’s lives by showing them how to get online, which is such a vital component of our everyday lives.
“This is a fantastic intergenerational project; the benefits are not just elderly people getting online – we have young and old joined in learning when they rarely come into contact in society nowadays.”