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Library offers computer training for Spanish Town seniors

Senior citizens in Spanish Town and its environs now have an opportunity to become computer literate, through a training programme offered by the St Catherine Parish Library.

The programme will get underway next Monday at the library's Red Church Street headquarters, with an initial 10 seniors to benefit from training in basic word processing skills as well as the use of the Internet.

Senior librarian Lorraine McLean told JIS News that on seeing the success of the seniors' computer programme offered by the St Ann's Bay Parish Library, it was decided to offer similar training in Spanish Town.

The courses, facilitated by the CHASE Fund, would be conducted in six-week batches, with the participants attending two sessions per week.  "They will be taught how to identify the different parts of the computer; be introduced to Microsoft Word; how to type, edit and print a document; how to set up an e-mail address; and surfing the Internet," she said.

"We won't be hard on them because they are seniors and are learning something new, so we will be patient with them.  The fact that they are willing to come and learn again is a major plus so we will be there for them," she said.

According to McLean, the intention is to run the programme for the rest of the year because of the enormous amount of requests from seniors to participate.  "Next year, we will try to devise a more in-depth programme for those who've completed the basic training and want to go on further," she added.

Acting regional director for the Jamaica Library Service, Mary Bewajji, said that the training programme offered significant benefits to participants.  "I believe that having the knowledge of how to use technology in everyday life will help them to get some sort of job after retiring; something that will keep them busy instead of staying at home and they can also apply it to their personal lives," she said.

To participate, persons must be part of a senior citizens club and must display a willingness to learn about the computer.  The training is offered free of cost to the participants.

Daisy Westcarr, who will be among the first batch of participants, said that the programme was a good thing for seniors.  "It will help me to do some of the things I have to do at home," added Mavis Mallet, a member of the Keystone Senior Citizen's Club.

"This will be a refresher course for me," said Mary Bailey, while Pauline Tulloch, a former administrator at the Spanish Town Hospital, who retired before the hospital became computerised, said that "now I'll be able to keep in touch with my children in Canada".

Meanwhile, most libraries in the St Catherine network have received computers through the CHASE Fund.  Kitson Town, Point Hill, Bridgeport, and Hellshire each got two; Waterford received three; while Old Harbour got four.