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Cross-media: Knowledge - crossing, ideas -crossing, inspiration - crossing

Great ideas, like support older adults through mentorship, need attention! But, if people are not actively looking for a mentoring program they probably never get in touch with it. Especially older people, who do not know their way around the internet, will probably never get to know about it. That is why this idea needs to be realized by using cross-media. Which means information, as well as participation, should be possible on many different levels and not bound to only one medium.

Photo of Claudia Brüggen

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How would you describe your idea in one sentence?

Exchanging knowledge and experience on many different platforms.
Knowledge-crossing: Young mentors pack a box with a step by step explanation about how to do or learn a certain thing. Each box will have a different topic. There will be two kinds of boxes: an "online version" and a "offline version". The "offline version" will be a real box, which can be send by mail or can be picked up at certain points, like the library for example. The first reason for the different kind of boxes is that a variety of topics often require different media to represent the topic best. And the second one is that people, who do not have a lot of practice in using the internet, also have the possibility to use those boxes.
Each box contains a telephone number or e-mail address of the mentor, who can be contacted for questions.  In addition to that there will be a list on the internet with available boxes and topics that are existing. If you want to receive a certain box, there will be a list where you can sign up for it. When a person has finished a "offline box" it will be passed on to the one, who is next on the list. The box will also contain a little notebook with some information about the mentor. Everybody that gets the box has the possibility to leave a comment for the mentor in the notebook and when the notebook is full it will be returned to the mentor.

Knowledge chain: In addition to that both boxes will  offer the opportunity to add knowledge. This means that everyone, who is currently using the box can add information to it, of which he thinks that could be useful for others. Like suggestions for easier learning or suggestions for :how to solve certain problems. Through this feedback you cannot only improve the learning for others, it might also be a helpful feedback for the mentor.
Ideas - crossing: Relationships are build on exchange. But what can you offer for exchange, if your knowledge about who you are dealing with is limited? So let us start with idea-crossing as a common ground for personal interaction. There will be a virtual notice board on a website, where older adults can pin what they want to learn. If somebody already pinned your idea on the board, there will be the possibility to add comments or likes. So for example, if there is a group of people who likes to learn the same thing, it might be a good idea to organize a group meeting for example using existing tools for meet ups that already exist. Trough this notice board individuals also can be matched up.
There will also will "offline" notice boards for example in local libraries or cafes, where people can pin their ideas for others to see. For example there could be a cooperation with your local library that allows you to pack boxes with books, DVD's and CD's concerning a certain topic. These boxes can either be borrowed in the library or, for persons with reduced mobility, the mentor can bring it to them.  The website with the notice board will also offers a section with: Ideas to get in touch. So you can find the right option for you: for example, pen pal, meet in person, Skype, go on activities together etc.

A lot of libraries do also have halls for readings or events. That is why libraries might not only be a good place to exchange boxes, but also a good place for "mentoring events". For example, if we can identify a topic, on the notice board, that a lot of older adults want to learn about. Then a mentor, who has a firm knowledge in this topic could give a speech in the library about it.

Inspiration-crossing: Mentoring is not only about exchanging knowledge, there should also be an exchange on a personal level. People, who inspire us, usually have a big positive impact on our life's, because they are able to extend our view on the world. Sometimes they help us to leave our comfort zone, help us  to make new experience and do things we enjoy, but never thought about doing until that person infected us with the idea. So  let yourself get inspired by older people! Don't see your only opportunity in mentorship to help people with what they want to learn. Learn from them and as well provide them with new ideas and inspiration of things you think they will enjoy.
Inspiration can be exchanged on a general level, like on a second "virtual" notice board. But there are although billions of ways to exchange inspiration on a personal level. You can start with simple things like recommending a book which you think is worth reading or suggest to try out a new delicious recipe. Suggest a hobby you think they would enjoy. But more important: learn to be a good observer and let yourself get inspired by the people you interact with.

Experience - crossing: List of meet ups in your region, where you can meet up with other mentors and exchange experience and ideas. Those meet ups can be joined by people, who are interested in becoming a mentor. Because talking to people who are already mentoring, can make mentoring feel less scary and can be encouraging to become one yourself
Other things that should be on the website:
Source box: Use group knowledge to create a database of mentoring organisations, university programs  for older adult , classes that can be attended etc.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to test any assumptions you might have about your idea?

Start with a notice board in the local library. Ask your library, if people can pack boxes to a certain topic. Or create a presentation, which you will send by e-mail to someone.

What aspects of your idea could benefit from the input, skills or know-how of our OpenIDEO community?

Basically all the aspects can benefit from the OpenIDEO community! For example adding cross-media ideas or finding the right locations for the "offline" notice boards


Join the conversation:

Photo of Jessica Steele

Love the idea! I wonder if another element could be added to deliver boxes to seniors who have difficulty with transportation. Boxes could be placed in libraries, even churches, etc., as you suggested, along with participation from local high schools.

As an incentive for kids, a competitive element could be implemented to make the most creative boxes, or the greatest number of boxes, in a month, for example. Homerooms vs. homerooms, teachers vs. students, or even sports teams vs. other various clubs could all be groups working together but against each other to make this idea a success!

Syracuse University

Photo of Tracy Brandenburg

Jessica and Karin,

Great ideas! Love the "offline" concept. And for Jess, as a teacher, I know students LOVE competitions, so great idea! I wonder if we could build on the need for self-esteem and pride that I learned about when I met AARP Foundation seniors and even included some sort of love and appreciation note in these boxes. Something that says, "You are important to our community!"

Super cool ideas, everyone! Thoughtful and fun!

Photo of Claudia Brüggen

Thank you very much Jessica, Tracy and Meena for your comments and ideas!

I especially like to pick up what Tracy said about "appreciation notes in the boxes". As I already mentioned in my idea, I think it is important that those boxes do not only provide knowledge, but also the possibility for personal interaction. So that a box can be "just a starter" for further (personal) interaction between older adults and mentors. And I think it would be great, if we could collect more ideas of how to add a "personal level" and possibilities of interaction to the box.

Ideas so far:

appreciation notes

notebook inside the box where people can leave a comments for the mentor

phone number/e-mail address of the mentor

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Hi Karin. Such a personal and creative idea! As I was reading the comments I was visualizing the box in a library, someone opening it, taking out cards, it brought to mind a yearly tradition that we have in NY at Christmas time. Children write "Letters to Santa" which go to the main post office. In the letters they write wishes - want they want or need. Locals go to the post office and read letters choosing those that they would like to answer by making a child's wish come true for the holidays. They buy the items and bring them back to the post office to be sent off to the child. What if the seniors write letters in which they describe their situation and their mentoring wishes/needs and put them in the box? Youth can read letters from the box in the library and grant a senior a wish in the form of mentoring.

Photo of Claudia Brüggen

Hi Bettina,
I know that tradition, we also have something like that in Germany. I think it is a really great idea to transfer this Christmas tradition to the mentoring project! It is not only personal, but also a very good addition to the question of “how we can make this project accessible to many people, by offering different platforms”. Thank you!

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