Seniors prove you're never too old to be tech savvy
AS A STUDENT, Frank Birkin is one of a kind.
The Tweed resident was among graduates of the Tech Savvy Seniors computer course and picked up his certificate five days before his 100th birthday.
Frank was really looking forward to that particular celebration at his bowls club, falling as it did on Melbourne Cup Day, November 7.
He's had a laptop for about three years, and this is his second completion of the Ace Community Colleges tech savvy course this year.
At 97, Frank saw other people on computers and thought, "If they can do it, I can do it".
"I don't know what I'd do without the computer," he said.
"I was up to 6500 emails. I get pleasure out of looking at them.
"I like to send them on to other people.
"Anything you want to know, you can find out about it.
"There's a lot I don't know."
Frank's not one to spend his whole life in front of a screen though.
"I play bowls three days a week," he said.
He retired early, at 42, after several years working three jobs.
"I was an engineer, had a poultry farm and I've been a milk vendor," he said.
After a 12-year holiday, he returned to work and then came up from Sydney to the Tweed in 1987.
Course trainer Glenn Hare says each Tech Savvy Seniors class averaged 12 to 16 students, aged 60 years and above.
Two-hour sessions run each Thursday for five weeks.
"Some students brought iPhones, tablets, or laptops, or we can supply a laptop," Glenn said.
"I tell them about the use of email and the internet, then I'd put them with the helpers to assist them.
"(At any age), you've got to keep up with what's happening in the world and just learn a few skills."
Ace Community Colleges Burleigh Waters manager Robyn Keenan said hundreds of seniors had built their confidence with new technologies through the course.
"It's such a rewarding and positive experience for everyone," she said.
"The absolute best way to support our seniors through the Tech Savvy program is with step-by-step demonstrations and additional one-on-one support which our students volunteer to do.
"We are really proud of our graduates for their commitment to helping others and it's truly wonderful to see our community working together.
"The one thing that unites every group of seniors taking part in the program is that they are 100 per cent eager to learn and 100 per cent absorb everything.
"By the finish, the team really know a huge amount and can safely navigate their way around the web, their phone, iPad and so much more - and they have so much fun.
"Hats off to the crew as they graduate and we say goodbye - we will miss you all."
The Tech Savvy Seniors program is funded by Telstra and the Department of Family and Community Services.