By Emilie St. John
INGLEWOOD — Mayor James T. Butts Jr. has announced a new program where senior citizens connect with the city’s tech-savvy teens virtually for tech support and engagement.
“The All IN For INglewood Generation Connect program demonstrates our commitment to bridging the gap between our exceptional high school students and older adults within our Inglewood community,” Butts said. “By bringing our seniors into the digital realm, we are not only strengthening bonds between the generations but equipping our older residents with essential skills.
“At the same time, our teens learn, along with many valuable lessons, that their technical expertise is monetizable. Together, we are forging a path toward a more connected and brighter future for Inglewood. I am excited to see the positive impact this program will have on our community.”
The City Council unanimously approved support for the program July 11.
City Councilwoman Gloria Gray had some questions about the $54,000 contract. However, the founder of Generation Connect, Candace Walker, squashed her concerns after answering her questions.
Walker spoke with a reporter to provide more clarity about how the program is made possible through a collaborative effort between the city, the Inglewood Unified School District, Generation Connect and the South Bay Workforce Investment Board.
“The historic collaboration between the city of Inglewood, Inglewood Unified School District, South Bay Workforce Investment Board and Generation Connect resulted from the concept proposed to Mayor James T. Butts, Jr. during an opportune meeting,” Walker said. “In the past, I have worked independently with each entity.”
Walker explained the concept of Generation Connect was first brought up at the Inglewood Senior Center during the pandemic. The success of the pilot led to a contract with the Los Angeles County Office of Education, under their Community Schools Initiative. Through the county Office of Education program, Generation Connect worked with Morningside and City Honors High School and also initiated becoming a worksite with the South Bay Workforce Investment Board during that time.
“Since we were all over Inglewood serving different groups and demographics, we saw the collaboration as an opportunity to build community pride, increase intergenerational connectivity, and serve the unmet technological needs of seasoned adults, by bringing all of the entities together under one program,” Walker said.
The program allows selected high school students to enroll in the Generation Connect Work Experience Education class as an accredited course while also earning community service hours and compensation. The students will receive professional training in teaching technology to older adults, among other related work experience, while also benefitting from mentorship and life lessons from participating with older adults. The aim is to foster meaningful relationships and skill development.
Through the support of the South Bay Workforce Investment Board’s Youth@Work program or similar initiatives, students who submit approved timesheets will receive approximately $16.90 per hour for their involvement in the program.
The program is scheduled to begin in the upcoming fall semester, extending through spring and summer 2024. Inglewood High School will offer the program as an elective class, culminating in a special end-of-semester ceremony, with the mayor in attendance.
During this ceremony, students and senior citizens will receive certificates of completion, signifying their participation in the Generation Connect program.
Walker explained the overall goal of the program is to achieve outcomes outlined by the World Health Organization.
“We aim to increase connectedness between the generations, overall technical knowledge of seasoned adults, self-esteem and confidence in teens, and community pride, to name a few desired outcomes,” Walker said.
For more information about the program, visit cityofinglewood.com or on the generationconnect.io website.
Emilie St. John is a freelance journalist covering the areas of Carson, Compton, Inglewood and Willowbrook. Send tips to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.