In a remarkable display of resilience and enthusiasm, 35 seniors have successfully graduated from the transformative ‘Hangouts‘ program, a year-long initiative offered by Matakite Online Trust of New Zealand in collaboration with Shanti Niwas Charitable Trust. The program, which commenced in January 2023, was a beacon of hope for older adults, equipping them with essential digital skills and knowledge to navigate the increasingly complex online world.
International Day of Older Persons, celebrated on October 21, 2023, marked a joyous occasion as these brilliant graduates received their well-deserved certificates from the esteemed Chairperson of Shanti Niwas Charitable Trust, Mr. Ashok Gaur, and the dynamic CEO of Matakite Online Trust, Ms. Heather Newell.
The ‘Hangouts’ program, designed exclusively for seniors, served as a comprehensive digital empowerment platform, offering a diverse curriculum tailored to the unique needs of this demographic. The curriculum encompassed a wide array of topics, including online safety, the use of utility and government services tools and applications, cultivating healthy online practices, accessing free entertainment resources online, safeguarding social media privacy, media literacy, and utilizing digital tools to connect with loved ones, among other essential skills.
The program, a brainchild of Dr. Vinay Karanam, the co-founder, and CTO of Matakite Online Trust, has been a resounding success. Dr. Vinay’s dedication to digital inclusion among seniors is evident through his accolades, including the prestigious ‘Best Community Program of the Year 2022 – Tangata Tiriti’ awarded by ACE Aotearoa. This accolade recognized his SeniorHangouts program while he worked with SeniorNet New Zealand, benefiting over 20,000 seniors by imparting advanced and fundamental digital skills.
Dr. Vinay has been at the forefront of delivering digital training and awareness to Shanti Niwas since the early days of the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020. His commitment to fostering digital literacy among the senior population has been nothing short of transformative, empowering seniors to embrace the digital age with confidence.
The impact of the ‘Hangouts’ program on digital inclusion, particularly within the senior population in New Zealand, cannot be understated. It is a testament to the collaborative efforts of Shanti Niwas Charitable Trust and Matakite Online Trust in bridging the digital divide. This initiative not only imparts knowledge but also instills a sense of independence and connectivity, enriching the lives of older adults.
In a world increasingly shaped by technology, the successful graduation of 35 seniors through the ‘Hangouts’ program is a beacon of hope, demonstrating that age is no barrier to learning and embracing the digital age. As New Zealand marches forward in its commitment to digital inclusion, the ‘Hangouts’ program stands as a shining example of what can be achieved through dedication, collaboration, and a deep desire to empower all citizens, regardless of age.
With the ‘Hangouts’ program, the seniors have not only acquired valuable digital skills but have also gained a renewed sense of purpose and connectedness in an ever-evolving world.
This program represents a pivotal moment in the journey towards digital inclusion, bridging generational gaps and transforming lives. The tireless efforts of Dr. Vinay Karanam and the visionary leadership of Shanti Niwas Charitable Trust and Matakite Online Trust are heralding a new era of digital empowerment for seniors in New Zealand. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, it is heartening to witness seniors embracing technology with confidence and enthusiasm, reinforcing the belief that it is never too late to embark on a transformative digital journey.