SFU students design social media plan to help isolated Marpole seniorsMar 08, 2013
The following article was published by The Vancouver Courier by Stanley Tromp, contributing writer.
A group of business students has created a social media plan to reduce the isolation of seniors living alone in Marpole.
Last week, the students designed a “web” of coloured yarn in front of Marpole library on Granville Street near 70th Avenue, to symbolize both physical community connections and the Internet’s interconnected web. Passersby wrote their names on papers hung onto the yarn while the students explained to them the purpose of Forever Connected, a plan started by the Marpole Place Neighbourhood House to reduce the isolation of the community’s seniors.
“Many people had heard of the neighbourhood house before and were interested in learning about more ways to get involved,” said the web’s creator, SFU business student Joanna Kipp. “The web looked so great that we ended up leaving it up. Despite the damp weather, it turned out to be a great success and is hopefully the first of many for Marpole Place.”
Kipp’s group members, who are all MBA students at SFU’s Beedie School of Business, include Danielle Friesen, Geordan Hankinson, Negar Hadavi, and Mohammad Nasiri. As part of their marketing and information systems classes, they were asked to design a social media strategy for a local nonprofit. They chose Marpole Place Neighbourhood House.
“We have done a lot of projects during our MBA, but I have to say that this has definitely been the most interesting and exciting one so far,” said Kipp.
Older people generally use social media less than do younger people, and some have no computer at home. “That was our challenge,” Kipp added. “If someone is isolated, they’ll likely not leave their house much, but they will know someone who does, and that person will come down the street, and also uses social media. So you can reach some people you couldn’t otherwise reach.”
She says that in future, seniors could find more companionship through online chat groups and forums. Some think that social media is so fast paced that it’s only suited for a younger generation, but Kipp says no one is too old to learn the online world. Two years ago her parents began texting and now do it all the time. Marpole Place also has computer skills workshops for seniors.
The Forever Connected Club is looking for volunteers over 55 who like people and to become a Forever Connected Volunteer Ambassador. The club provides opportunities for older adults to go on bus trips, be picked up for community meals, join in activities and make new friends. The project is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program. Call Marpole Place at 604-266-5301.