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Partners in Living Well: Tech training for all

From Kirsten Cruikshank, Community Partners

My 85-year-old mother-in-law, Pat, uses her iPhone every day to make calls, send texts, comment on Facebook and take photos. She finds old photo prints around the house and snaps digital photos of them so that she can easily scroll through the images and review the memories. Once in a while, she will text message me a photo of one of my kids when they were little. It brightens my day, and it’s a good way to keep in touch with her. She is one of a growing number of seniors using iPhones, iPads and other devices to keep up with their family members.

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In Lake County, we hope to see more and more people like Pat embrace technology to help them stay vital and involved.

Last April, when Lake County was named a Blandin Broadband Community, a diverse group of people gathered and set a goal that Lake County residents will have access to and increased use of broadband technologies to enhance lifelong education, economic development opportunities and improve quality of life.

Our vision was that there would be increased use of broadband technology among “Lifelong Learners” – people of all ages who may or may not be connected to an educational institution.

I have been fortunate to be part of the local committee that has been meeting to provide the leadership/oversight to locally funded projects. The committee is made up of people representing nonprofits, government, citizens, and local businesses.

One of the main programs funded with Blandin Broadband Community funds has been affordable workshops open to community members offered through the Lake Superior School District Community Education Department. Hundreds of people have benefited from the classes taught by school faculty, staff of PureDriven and volunteers. The following workshops are still available in Two Harbors this spring:

• Building a Successful Facebook Page

• Business Tools to use

• Digital Photography Basics

• Introduction to Windows 9

• iPhones, iPads and iPods

• Online Banking

• Overdrive I, Overdrive II, and Overdrive users group

• Senior Surf Day

The following are offered in Silver Bay:

• Business Tools to Use

• Digital Photography Basics

• Introduction to Windows 8

• iPhones, iPads and iPods

• Online Banking

• Students to Seniors: Multi-age tech training

• Senior Surf Day

Refer to the latest issue of “Good News, Good Schools” for registration information. Now is the time to take advantage of these affordable classes (free, $5 or $10). They are offered with funding support from the Blandin Foundation. As stated in Good News, “The Blandin Foundation stands with Minnesota’s rural leaders and communities as they create and claim futures that are resilient, vibrant and connected. Abundant and robust access to the Internet (broadband), and the digital literacy skills necessary to take full advantage of this access, are essential as communities seek to compete and thrive in a digitally-connected world.”

Committee members also worked with video producers to produce local videos about using Broadband that will soon be available on YouTube, and on local websites like the Community Partner’s site,

Another opportunity for learning will take place on Tuesday May 13th at the 15th annual Community Partner’s Conference. The theme this year is “Senior Health and Technology”. Watch for details about the conference coming soon!

LaReesa Sandretsky
LaReesa Sandretsky is a Two Harbors High School graduate and Duluth native who began working at the News-Chronicle in 2012 as a reporter. She took over as editor in 2014. She covers County Board, including the Lake County broadband project.
(218) 834-2141