A FLEDGLING startup that began with ten local teenagers visiting an aged care home to help residents improve their technology skills has expanded nationally.
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Tony and Finn Rothacker founded Youngster.co to address the two issues of high local youth unemployment and underemployment and the social isolation of elderly people.
“We now have almost 300 “youngsters” currently participating with the prospect of another 300 joining soon”, according to Tony.
When COVID-19 struck, like all effective entrepreneurs, Tony and Finn realised that there were opportunities to “scale up” more quickly online than through face-to-face sessions.
Most of the “youngsters” are university students and young people doing a gap year who are seeking to do something worthwhile.
While the immediate rewards for the elderly seem obvious, the “youngsters” also receive life lessons in return.
The benefits, however, are spread more widely.
It has been estimated that every dollar spent on programs like youngster.co. could return as much as $30 to society.
Young people gain some employment from the program as well as qualities such as communication, listening and empathy that help them become more employable.
Older people not only become more connected to family and friends but learn to become online shoppers and access online medical services.
This lowers the cost to society and has a range of social and medical benefits.
The range of assistance from “youngsters” has expanded from teaching technology skills to teaching new languages or helping take up a new hobby.
With recognition in a national entrepreneurship magazine, and support from entrepreneurs such as “Shark Tank” regular Naomi Simson, the only direction for Youngster.co is outwards.
By Andrew VIVIAN