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    "The Digital Divide"
    In 1928, the electric refrigerator was invented, a year later, Edwin was born. He remembers a time before television, and a time that when, if his kids needed to do research, they had to go to the library or use the family set of world book encyclopedias. In 1997, when Trevor was born, the internet was already a fixture of daily life. Technology has played an integral part in both his school curriculum and extracurricular learning. He doesn't know a world without computers, tablets and smart phones.   
    We often hear the term “The Digital Divide” to describe the difference in the comfort level of using technology by the “digital natives”, our youth who have been born into a world of technology, and the “digital immigrants”, those of us who have been exposed to technology later in life. No where is this chasm more evident than between a connected teenager and an older adult who can remember a time before television.
    Through a unique partnership with the Hopewell Valley Municipal Alliance, the Hopewell Valley Senior Services, and Hopewell Valley Regional School District, a bridge is being built to span this divide. As part of the Generation Connection program overseen by the Municipal Alliance and Senior Services, teens and older adults come together in community service. Students and their “tech partners” meet monthly from October through May to answer any questions the adults may have.
    Generation Connection, developed by Hopewell Valley Township Senior Coordinator Abigail Meletti and Municipal Alliance Coordinator Heidi Kahme, is the result of Hopewell Valley’s work with Search Institute to develop and infuse values in the Hopewell Valley community. One of the over-arching goals of the Municipal Alliance is to bring together older residents and younger residents to make positive connections; this program fits in perfectly with their vision.  
    The tech support program entitled “Tech Time” brings a unique opportunity to students who may not always have an opportunity to act as an expert on a topic - especially with an adult. And for older adults, they have an opportunity to learn in a stress free environment with a knowledgeable teacher. Older adults bring iPads, smartphones, and laptops to receive personalized instruction. At a recent session, a student even helped a couple make online reservations for their annual trip to Florida.
    Both the students and older adults shared that perhaps the most rewarding part of the program are the conversations that take place during and after the lesson. The students and older adults really establish a friendship and an understanding of each other as people. The students learn that many of their worries like dating, time management, and fitting in, have been around for a long time. While the adults learn that although the students may use different methods to communicate with each other, like texting and email, the connection is still the same.     
    Alliance Coordinator Heidi Kahme notes that all those involved benefit from the  program and their participation is an experience that neither individual will soon forget. The bridge that is built each month to span the digital divide is magical. “I don’t know what I would do without my tech buddy.” Said one senior.