For each person, computer empowerment presents a special opportunity for involvement in something greater than oneself.

Computer Skill Acquisition
The Empowerment For Healthy Minds Computer Empowerment Program (CEP) underway in Roanoke, Virginia, involves one-to-one consumer-to-consumer mentoring of basic computer skills.  The experience of learning and sharing reflects a high degree of mutuality--both participants are gaining.  The mentor is gaining from his or her role as leader and from the opportunity to learn about another consumer.  The pupil is increasing his or her ability to connect to information and people, as well as having a chance to get to know a fellow consumer who is constructively engaged.  The pair encourages each other in creating an existence of meaning and direction.

During the first lesson a pupil's computer skills are assessed and his or her interests are recorded.  The course of study is primarily pupil-directed, with the mentor serving to help make the pupil aware of what lies waiting to be discovered.  Important to this process is the understanding that the "recipient of services" is actually the "director of services."  The pupil is in charge of his or her educational life.  As the pupil's educational life develops, he or she becomes connected with other consumers who are growing in empowerment and wellness due to participation in consumer-run activities.  The effect is considerable.

The pupil begins CEP in the understanding that once certain skills are mastered, he or she will be expected to share the knowledge with others.  Agreements, goals, and assignments are a part of CEP.  We believe that for us to succeed personally we must work to achieve together.

Computer Ownership
The lessons take place either at a centralized location, a computer lab of some kind, or at the pupil's residence.  If the pupil has no computer, a suitable computer is provided.  Computer ownership is important for several reasons.  First, computer skills are best mastered with continual if not constant use.  Second, ownership of a computer invests the pupil more thoroughly in CEP.  The pupil may understand that we are quite literally providing a tool that may change his or her life.  Lastly, computers made over a decade ago are suitable for our purposes.  What is often tossed out into the dumpster can be a vehicle for personal empowerment and change.



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