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Seniors get lessons on texting and cellphones

Updated: June 13, 2013 12:14AM

The Samsung slider phone vibrated and gently alerted Socorro Lozano, 67, of 63 unread texts she didn’t know how to access.

But Lozano finally was able to check out the messages Wednesday morning after a lesson by Juan Levy, a trainer AT&T Wireless.

Levy and two fellow AT&T colleagues led the training at the Kelvyn Park Senior Center in the 2700 block of North Cicero Avenue as part of AT&T Illinois’ program to educate seniors on how to use wireless devices.

When State Rep. Toni Berrios and State Sen. Iris Martinez heard about the program a month ago, they set up a date and time to hold the workshop at the senior center.

After about 10 minutes of one-on-one time with Lozano, who proudly showed off her freshly empty inbox, Levy moved over to crouch next to Angel Cifuentes’s chair, 67, then Luis Sarmiento, 78, then Anna Trujillo, 70 — and the list goes on — until the trainers made their way around the room. There were about 45 senior citizens in attendance.

“I didn’t see anyone with a smart phone,” Levy said. “It was more about the basics like how to text, so they can communicate easier with their kids. ”

Many of the training attendees receive their cellphones from their children as a necessary safety precaution in case health-related emergencies ever arise, like Lenor Floras, 74, and her husband Tony.

“We hardly use it but we take it everywhere,” Tony Floras said, shrugging in the direction of the black phone in front of him.

The couple has one flip phone between the two of them, though they prefer to use a land line for making everyday calls.

“I have to learn everything,” Lenor Floras said, dragging out the word “everything” for emphasis and bursting into laughter when asked what she was hoping to learn.

Sylvia Aldrete, director in external affairs for AT&T, said the trainings allow seniors to use their phones to the fullest capacity, something that’s important in staying connected.

Aldrete recounted the story of one woman she helped who had a total of 121 unread emails.

“I showed her how to access them, and then how to text,” she said. “We were texting back and forth for a while until she mastered it!”

Aldrete said the AT&T trainers will return to the senior center two more times to make sure the training is effective, though the dates have not yet been set.

Several of the attendees had phone carriers other than AT&T.

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