In late June, The District of Columbia Housing Authority held a graduation ceremony for 24 senior residents at Garfield Terrace, 2301 11th Street N.W. The seniors were the first graduating class from the Connected Living program that focuses on digital literacy. It provides training and offers seniors living at the community access to technology, programming and support to help them stay connected and engaged, and to narrow the digital divide that isolates nearly 25 million senior citizens in the U.S. alone.

“Access to technology is a matter of social justice and provides our residents with an opportunity to have all of the benefits of a connected life,” D. C. Housing Authority Executive Director, Adrianne Todman said in a statement. “Garfield Terrace residents now have the ability to participate in areas that matter most to them including, education, healthcare, socialization, jobs and bridging of the generations.”

District of Columbia Mayor Vincent C. Gray, who officiated at the graduation ceremony, is an avid supporter of the program. “The initiative at Garfield Terrace is a fantastic example of how the public and private sectors can partner for the greater good,” he said. “By providing our senior citizens with access to technology – and the training and support that is essential to its successful adoption – we’ve broadened their community and given them access to all sorts of new opportunities. They are using the technology to stay in touch with their kids and grandkids and to meet their neighbors. They’re taking advantage of online educational and career opportunities. They’re preserving their memories and insights so that a whole new generation can benefit from their collective wisdom. It’s very exciting to see, and the success of the program demonstrates how technology can remove barriers and create a more equitable and prosperous society.”

Connected Living is a mission-based organization helping senior citizens live richer, more connected lives through the use of technology. The group launched the Garfield Terrace program on April 10 with a group of twenty-four residents. As part of the program, Connected Living provided the residents with access to computers through which they could interact with their families, neighbors, and building administrators in a safe, private online community. More importantly the residents received training and ongoing support that is essential to helping seniors feel comfortable using the technology.

“It is not ok to leave an entire generation out of the conversation simply because they do not have access or the training needed to adopt technology,” Sarah Hoit, CEO and co-founder of Connected Living said in a statement. “Staying connected to friends and family, accessing goods and services, education and job opportunities, and quality, affordable health care is an opportunity we should all have. Connected Living has proven that seniors across the country want to connect and once they do, it not only impacts their quality of life, but also allows them to share their wisdom and voice with their family and surrounding community.”

The graduation ceremony included a welcome address given by D.C. Housing Authority Executive Director Adrianne Todman, followed by a video showing the positive impact Connected Living has had on the lives of the residents at Garfield Terrace. D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray then congratulated the seniors before they received their diplomas. The next group of Garfield Terrace residents has already signed up for classes and a new peer trainer from the first class will be crowned at the ceremony.