The Teens Behind A Rapping Granny's Viral Video
Kascha and Macaulee Cassaday are the founders of the Cyber-Seniors program, which pairs teen mentors with senior citizens, teaching them to stay connected with help from the web. Their work is immortalized on film in a documentary of the same name, telling a story full of warmth, humor and a lot of surprises. Cyber-Seniors is available on iTunes, Amazon and DVD today, January 27.
We spoke with the sisters to find out more about the film and why the mission was so important to them.
How did you come up with the idea for Cyber-Seniors?
Kascha: In Ontario, Canada, we have to do 40 hours of community service in high school, and we were looking for something beyond typical volunteering. We brought our friends together and visited retirement homes to teach senior citizens to get online after we saw how much joy technology brought our grandparents.
What did you expect when the program started?
Kascha: We didn't know where the program would go, but after the first few lessons we knew it could catch on with other students. We brought our older sister Saffron Cassaday along to film lessons as promo material. That's where the Cyber-Seniors documentary came from. We decided to launch it as a broader program so anybody can get involved from anywhere. Over time, it's evolved into this generation-wide campaign. We have tons of resources, like handbooks for both older people and mentors to teach others how to use computers and tablets.
How involved were you in the making of the film?
Macaulee: The film shows seniors and their mentors during the learning process and these relationships forming, as well as the story of us and our grandparents. During the time of filming, I was diagnosed with cancer and I was really sick. I'd Skype them from the hospital and it was a way of us staying connected. Our side story was our relationship with our grandparents, showing the project and it's wider relevancy in our lives, as well.
What was the biggest thing you learned during this whole process?
Kascha: We'd grown up being around senior citizens because of our mom, but you forget that these people are so much more interesting than anybody else you know. They've lived a lifetime. They've done so many more things than you. They have so many stories. At that point in their lives they tend to lose a little bit of their filter, and they are so amusing. Whether it's somebody who has a really touching story about their life and a really inspiring story or someone who's just hilarious, they have such personalities. As a teenager, you're wrapped up in your own little world. The most rewarding part of it was hearing these stories and learning from them.
Macaulee: My relationship with that generation was only with my grandma and grandpa, so going into it was really eye opening. It dispelled these ageist ideas I had. I thought if they were old they wouldn't be able to get technology. You can learn at any age and that there's still so much to learn wherever you are at any point in your life and that was something that I found really inspiring.
To learn even more about Cyber-Seniors and find out how you can get involved, click here for free resources, and be sure to check it out at home today. Comment below with your thoughts on the program, and share your own experiences with technology with us at Sweety High.