GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV)- AARP implemented two new ways to help its 38 million members and all older adults live their best lives, at a time when people are more reliant than ever on technology to help them live, work, learn and connect with friends and family.

First, AARP, a national nonprofit, is joining forces with the New York-based charity OATS (Older Adults Technology Services) to help older adults thrive in the digital world and use technology to improve their social engagement, financial security, civic participation, health and creativity. Second, AARP has launched the AARP Virtual Community Center, a new online destination where all older Americans can find a wide array of free online classes and events designed for self-improvement, learning and fun—including offerings from OATS.

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“Tech access and literacy can be the difference between being able to work, order food and medications, learn about vaccine availability in your community, and stay in touch with friends and family—or feeling isolated and reliant on others,” said Scott Frisch, AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “We welcome OATS into the AARP family. Their expertise and high-quality programming are lifelines for older people as they explore new ways to live, cope and thrive in a changing world. The AARP Virtual Community Center is crucial too—like a brick-and-mortar community center, the VCC offers a wide variety of live activities and classes and helps people connect and make friends, but all from the convenience and safety of your home.”

Through its flagship program, Senior Planet, OATS from AARP will empower older adults to overcome barriers to digital engagement by fostering skills and giving them the confidence they need to use technology and stay connected.

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“The role of technology in reducing social isolation and providing a platform for civic engagement has never been clearer,” said OATS Executive Director Tom Kamber. “By joining forces, OATS complements AARP’s existing enterprise-wide digital strategy to help millions of older adults nationwide embrace personal technology in ways that help them live their best lives.”

The OATS digital literacy courses, resources, and events will be a key part of the AARP Virtual Community Center, a new online destination for AARP members and non-members alike.

With everything from free movies, concerts, cooking classes and museum tours, to exercise classes, trainings for the 50+ worker, caregiving help, and lectures from top professors, the new virtual center will offer free interactive online events and classes designed for learning, self-improvement, and fun.

(Sponsored by AARP Michigan)