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HeART and 4H Tech Changemakers team up to help nursing home resident connect with family

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University of Wisconsin-Extension 4-H
Holly Luerssen and Laura Rydberg show the Amazon Echo devices

Technology has been a key part in connecting people during the pandemic.

It allowed students to keeping learning from home.

Jobs that had previously required working from the office, could not be flexible.

It’s helped connect families when they couldn’t gather in the same room.

But learning this technology is not easy for everyone.

That’s where the 4H Tech Changemakers come in.

It’s a group of students that help older adults learn technology through classes and workshops.

“I wanted to help more people and I felt that I could use my skills and technology to help adults in the community just become better with technology,” said Laura Rydberg. A high school sophomore and part of the Langlade Chapter of Tech Changemakers.

It’s because of the foundation of work that Laura and the other changemakers have been doing in the community that made them the perfect fit for this project idea.

The Langlade County Healthy Aging in Rural Town (HeART) Project member Paul Grinde wanted to get voice activated technology in the rooms of nursing home residents so they could talk to their families.

He reached out to Holly Luerssen, 4H program educator for Lincoln and Langlade counties.

“He knew there were people in our nursing homes and our assisted living facilities that were becoming out of touch with their loved ones who couldn’t get into the facilities because of the COVID situation,” said she said.

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Image of a “drop in” video call on the Echo Show 5.

Laura and the other changemakers set up Amazon Echo Show 5 devices. The devices allow residents to call, or video call their loved ones just by asking it to.

The changemakers learned how the devices worked and wrote up easy to follow instructions to make sure residents, nursing home staff, and families could all use them.

So far, the project has distributed six devices.

“It’s been something that have been valued and appreciated that we have provided for them,” said Luerssen.

Hearing that response has made the hardwork put in by Laura and the other worth it.

“It’s been really enjoyable. I’ve learned a lot about technology and also and leadership skills and communication skills. I think it’s amazing to see other people being affected by what I’ve done in good ways,” said Laura.

There are more devices available.

If your family is interested in the project, you can reach out to Grinde at 715-216-8718. To connect with the Tech Changemakers team or Luerssen, call the Langlade County Division of Extension office at 715-627-6236.

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