Blog by Ronit Chepuri,
I am very grateful that I have this opportunity to be a part of Sewa International’s DTL program helping kids learn the design process. I am also grateful to be making a difference in the world with Sewa and my hard-working team.
Our project for the DTL program is on Senior Isolation in the shadows of the pandemic. I wanted this topic because I, as many others, understood that during the pandemic, senior isolation, as bad as it was, got even worse. Because of necessary quarantine measures, the elederly had to stay in their rooms and were not able to see their family. Forms of communication like zoom became almost unusable as technology was still a challenge in senior homes. Activities that seniors would do together weren’t even happening at all. This has been even much more difficult for seniors with dementia or other such conditions. This causes more vulnerability when it comes to problems like financial scams. Because of isolation and the challenges of being old, older people are more likely to get scammed and thus lose more money. I knew that the situation of seniors was not the best, however when looking deeper into the problems confronting seniors during the pandemic, I was surprised to see how bad it all was. Now, I took even more interest in this topic as I wanted to interact/talk with some seniors living in assisted living or other such facilities and talk to the doctors and nurses taking care of them to see first hand the unfortunate reality the elderly have to face.
After my eyes were truly opened to this issue, I started to think more differently about the problem and thus, there was more success with prototyping when it began after research. Ideas like art classes for seniors, walkathons, or creating in-person stimulating events like board games were thrown around based on the observation. All of these ideas were meant to improve the mental state of seniors to have them be less isolated. These possible solutions were also meant to work hand in hand with technology to improve internet literacy. I was more enlightened about solutions for this problem after brainstorming and more lessons from DTL, so more specific ideas started to come afterward. I, for example, proposed to have more activities that related to gardening and outdoors. After much discussion, we settled on solutions of trivia nights that also combined with bingo, monthly entertainment shows like magic to keep a good environment in the senior home, and having yoga classes to work with meditation. I was really happy with these solutions, as from our research, I noticed that many problems that seniors face have to do with inactivity and under socializing with seniors, and all of our prototyped solutions will help with these problems.
With all that we did here in DTL Sewa, I had learned many important skills from this project, specifically about the importance of teamwork and how important research is, not just by looking things up, but also talking to the people who are affected most with a problem you are trying to solve. I have learned the value of each individual person has on their team, and I’m proud to make a difference with the collaboration of Sewa International.
Student - Tahoma High School, WA