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School children urged to help older relatives get connected at Christmas

The campaign by Louth County Council is encouraging young people to teach relations how to use technology such as video calling.

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Mary Dunne, 78, from Ardee, Co Louth, talks to grandson Jack, 11, over Zoom as part of Louth County Council’s ‘Superconnectors’ initiative (Ken Finegan/Newspics)

Mary Dunne, 78, from Ardee, Co Louth, talks to grandson Jack, 11, over Zoom as part of Louth County Council’s ‘Superconnectors’ initiative (Ken Finegan/Newspics)

Mary Dunne, 78, from Ardee, Co Louth, talks to grandson Jack, 11, over Zoom as part of Louth County Council’s ‘Superconnectors’ initiative (Ken Finegan/Newspics)

School children have been urged to become superconnectors this Christmas by teaching their older relatives how to use technology.

Louth County Council has launched an initiative encouraging young people to help grandparents and other older relations get up to speed with remote communication methods, such as video calling.

The campaign has been developed to reflect that many Irish families will not be able to get together as usual this festive season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The council’s age friendly co-ordinator Mary Dunne, a grandmother of 17, related her own experiences as she highlighted the benefits of becoming tech savvy.

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Jack Dunne, 11, chats with grandmother Mary over Zoom as they support Louth County Council’s ‘Superconnectors’ campaign asking younger people to teach older relatives how to set up and use technology. Picture: Ken Finegan/Newspics.

Jack Dunne, 11, chats with grandmother Mary over Zoom as they support Louth County Council’s ‘Superconnectors’ campaign asking younger people to teach older relatives how to set up and use technology. Picture: Ken Finegan/Newspics.

Jack Dunne, 11, chats with grandmother Mary over Zoom as they support Louth County Council’s ‘Superconnectors’ campaign asking younger people to teach older relatives how to set up and use technology. Picture: Ken Finegan/Newspics.

Last week, Mrs Dunne, from Ardee, made her Christmas pudding with nine of her grandchildren lending a virtual hand on a Zoom call.

“The first step is getting rid of your fears, after that it is plain sailing and young people can play a great role in connecting older people remotely, especially if they are apart from loved ones over Christmas,” she said.

“When I was doing the Christmas pudding, I got the three grandchildren in Brussels, three in Malahide, Dublin and the others in Ardee, on screen.

“I put a little Santa figure on the bowl so he was stirring with a wooden spoon and I counted one, two, three and they all made a wish – there was great excitement.”

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Mary Dunne, 78, from Ardee, Co Louth, talks to grandson Jack, 11, over Zoom as part of Louth County Council’s ‘Superconnectors’ initiative, which asks young people to help older relatives set up and use technology to stay connected over Christmas and beyond. Picture: Ken Finegan/Newspics

Mary Dunne, 78, from Ardee, Co Louth, talks to grandson Jack, 11, over Zoom as part of Louth County Council’s ‘Superconnectors’ initiative, which asks young people to help older relatives set up and use technology to stay connected over Christmas and beyond. Picture: Ken Finegan/Newspics

Mary Dunne, 78, from Ardee, Co Louth, talks to grandson Jack, 11, over Zoom as part of Louth County Council’s ‘Superconnectors’ initiative, which asks young people to help older relatives set up and use technology to stay connected over Christmas and beyond. Picture: Ken Finegan/Newspics

The 78-year-old, who is the recipient of an Age Action IT Enthusiast award, encouraged young tech champions to embrace the campaign.

“We are asking children to use software such as TeamViewer to take control of their grandparents’ screens, set up accounts and teach them how to use apps in real time,” she said.

“Most of us are used to Zoom and Teams meetings, but how many of us can say that they are simple for older people to set up?

“Older people need technology in their hands for practical things but also to combat the loneliness and isolation of Covid-19 – so giving them a helping hand on tech could be the ultimate gift this Christmas.”

The council’s Public Participation Network (PPN) co-ordinator, Grainne Carroll, said the SuperConnectors campaign would be particularly beneficial for children with relatives living overseas who are unable to return home this year.

“If you want to do something really meaningful this Christmas, make sure you can say you connected someone,” she said.

For more information, visit louthcoco.ie, louthppn.ie and Louth County Council’s social media channels.

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