Juniors Katie Reinhardt, Katie Hubbard, Sasha Sklarov, and Jack Keil have worked together amid the rigorous Business Incubator class at LFHS, and have generated a product called Smart Senior. This program offers classes directed towards improving connections between generations and teaching senior citizens about today’s technology and how to utilize it. Initially, the idea manifested out of guilt, as Keil, Hubbard, Sklarov, and Reinhardt all shared the common experience of not being able to communicate with their grandparents as technologically as they would other relatives.
The group of students visited local senior centers and conducted interviews to target what the citizens intended to gain from the Smart Senior course. The feedback presented three clear goals: understanding the process of connecting through texting and FaceTime, sharing photos through platforms such as Facebook, and above all else, gaining the ability to connect more often with their grandchildren.
Kate, Sasha, Katie, and Jack are starting from the bottom, and from there, building a business plan. Reinhardt points out that, “the customer and consumer are different in this case.” It is expected that, often times, the consumer will be the senior who actually attends the class, and the customer will be someone close to them. The greatest challenge this group has encountered thus far on their entrepreneurial journey has been all of the nitty gritty details, including coding a legitimate website and providing the ability to charge people through credit cards. To put it in simple terms, all of the “technology stuff” has proven to be a more complex hurdle than anticipated.
Currently, Gorton Center in Lake Forest provides existing classes to help community members better understand Microsoft Excel and Word programs. Smart Senior will be hosted at the same location, however, it will aim to teach the ins and outs of iPhone apps and functions such as FaceTime, Facebook and texting, that have become commonplace communication platforms for this generation’s young people. A complete course consists of six classes, which will provide the full curriculum, and will progressively get more nuanced as the senior progresses throughout the course schedule. These classes do require a payment, but the cost will be cut if all six classes are bought together in bundle
The group members’ individual experiences with their grandparents provided personal connections to the Smart Senior course, and all of the benefits that it can provide in connecting generation to generation will certainly grow to develop a lasting partnership between grandparents and their grandchildren.