Cyber-Seniors began as a high school project and inspired an award-winning documentary film that has been broadcast in 40 countries (including on PBS, Netflix and CBC) and screened in over 500 communities world-wide.
The idea for Cyber-Seniors came from a high school project that was launched by the founders of Cyber-Seniors, Macaulee and Kascha Cassaday in 2009, when they were 16 and 18 respectively. Macaulee and Kascha had witnessed first-hand how learning to use the Internet had transformed their grandparents’ lives. After learning some basic skills, their grandparents were in touch several times a week by email, Facebook and Skype. The Internet was instrumental in keeping their family connected despite busy schedules and living in different cities. Inspired by this realization, they started the Cyber-Seniors program to help other seniors get online.
The Cyber-Seniors documentary film was directed by Saffron Cassaday (Kascha and Macaulee’s sister) and produced by Brenda Rusnak (their mother). This humorous and heartwarming film, chronicles the extraordinary journey of a group of senior citizens as they discover the world of the Internet through the guidance of teenage mentors. Their exploration of cyber-space is catapulted to another level when 89 year-old Shura decides to create a YouTube cooking video. A spirited video competition for the most “views” evolves as the cyber-seniors’ hidden talents and competitive spirits are revealed. Cyber-Seniors provides insight into the wonderful things that can happen when generation gaps are bridged and new ways of connecting are explored. To everyone’s disbelief, Macaulee and her grandfather were both diagnosed with cancer during the filming of Cyber-Seniors. Through this challenging time, the Internet became an essential lifeline for the family. Macaulee and her grandfather grew even closer while undergoing cancer treatment, sometimes even Skyping during chemotherapy sessions.