Now in their ninth year, the BT Internet Ranger of the Year awards recognise the contribution of young people in proactively helping others use computers and the internet. The scheme is part of the wider BT Get IT Together programme, which is helping to get more people online. It encourages others to follow the example of award winners, whether this is by helping a member of their family or supporting school or community-based group sessions.
Simon Paul, BT digital inclusion programme manager, says: “Without the basic skills to get online many older people miss out on important information and cheaper goods and services – and even employment opportunities. Intergenerational learning is a simple and obvious solution to promoting digital inclusion. As part of the Internet Rangers scheme, BT wants to acknowledge and reward the fantastic work these youngsters do.”
The BT Internet Rangers Awards scheme recognises young people aged up to 16 who have been exceptional in sharing their ICT skills with others. Terri Miller from Edinburgh was overall UK winner in 2010. She was inspired by helping her cousin, who has cerebral palsy, to use a computer – making her realise what a positive impact the internet can have on the lives of people with a disability. After running trial sessions at her school, Terri approached youth workers at the local community centre to help set up computer classes for disabled and older people.
“In a way, giving other people the opportunity to experience what I do in terms of computer accessibility makes us all more equal,” explains Terri. The classes have been a great success, with Terri recruiting friends as Internet Rangers to cope with increasing numbers.
Regular attendee Lilly-Ann, who has Downs Syndrome, says: “It’s made my life more enjoyable. I usually find it hard to communicate with people. Being able to use the internet and send e-mails makes it so much easier.”
The BT Internet Ranger of the Year Awards scheme also recognises the work of schools that have helped older people in their local communities to make the most of the internet.
Great Barr School in Birmingham was named BT Internet Ranger School of the Year in 2010. As part of a community project set up by the school three years ago, pupils aged between 11 and 16 regularly visit nearby Perry Locks Nursing Home to run computer skills classes. Residents – many of whom had never used a computer before – have learnt how to use the internet for online shopping and researching their hobbies. And e-mail enables them to keep in touch with family and friends at home and overseas in a way never before possible.
The great success of the BT Internet Rangers scheme makes BT even more committed to encouraging and enabling more young people to share their computing skills with older generations safely and confidently. Martha Lane Fox, the government’s digital champion, concludes: “The BT Internet Rangers are working so hard to reduce the digital divide through intergenerational collaboration. It’s truly inspirational and a step towards a remarkable and digital UK.”