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Sophie Levine and Kaela Segal

Cherry Hill students Sophie Levine and Kaela Segal have grown up with technology in their hands, but these South Jersey teenagers are using their smart phones for much more than games and social media.

These days, Levine, 17, and Segal, 16, are using technology to forge human connections between local residents, including seniors at Katz JCC.

Two summers ago, Levine and Segal came across a program called Wire the Wise, which teaches the “Wise generation” how to use technology. With help from the South Jersey BBYO – a program focused on leadership training, Jewish heritage, social action/community service and Israel advocacy – the pair was able to create their own version at Katz JCC called L’Dor V’Tech. The name is based off a popular Hebrew phrase, L’Dor V’Dor, which means from generation to generation.

Segal, who is 16, says the program plays an important role in the lives of seniors and their loved ones.

“We think a lot of senior citizens aren’t able to stay in touch with their grandchildren or children, because they don’t really know how to use a smart phone,” she says. “So by them learning this, they can stay in contact and more in the loop with everything going on in their community.”

Levine says one of the participants asked for help setting up his voicemail and sending text messages. She says he reminded her how much she, and others her age, take for granted.

“Our generation grew up learning how to use our phones, and the older generation didn’t,” says Levine.

The L’Dor V’Tech program is held at Katz JCC from 3 to 4 pm every other Monday, after Segal and Levine finish their high school classes at 2:30 pm. The two students say they see an average of five attendees per session. To bring in more seniors to the program, they plan to focus efforts on advertising, using the skills they learned from Katz JCC’s teen leadership program, which they joined in 2016.

Segal says she loves seeing the joy her and Levine’s help brings to the participants.

“When they finally understand what we’re teaching, it really just gives you a good feeling, because they usually call their grandchildren to practice,” Segal says. “When they figure it out, they get so excited and happy.”

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