Mayor Mike Bloomberg toured one of the city’s senior centers in Flushing, Queens yesterday as part of a press event to promote his administration’s efforts in launching eight new “innovative” senior centers throughout New York City.
Innovation, in this case, means Skype!
With a tail of reporters and camera crews shoving each other behind him, Bloomberg arrived at the Selfhelp Ben Rosenthal Prince Street Senior Center in Queens yesterday morning, and was given a brief tour of the facilities; he shook hands with seniors, watched them sing, peeked in on a tai chi class, and, you betcha, even participated in a Skype chat (crazy 21st century world we live in, eh?)
In one room, he joined participants who were in the middle of a sing-a-long Skype session.
“Technology is wonderful — you could be any place and doing this,” he said.
After someone on the screen thanked Bloomberg, who turned 70 this year, for his support, the mayor added, “As I get older I get more interested in senior centers” (waka, waka, waka!).
At the official press conference after the tour, the mayor emphasized the innovation that these new centers are prioritizing.
“We have to ensure that our seniors have improved access to the quality health and wellness program that’s so vital, and the recreational, cultural, and social activities that are part of a vibrant life, and we saw that inside in different rooms. It also means connecting older New Yorkers to technology and the advances that are transforming our society in ways that were unimaginable only a decade ago,” he said.
Then, in a weird mistake — that apparently got a lot of attention — the mayor accidentally said “snipe,” instead of Skype. (We honestly didn’t notice at the time, but listening to our recording, yeah, it sounds like “snipe.” Oops.)
“Today, snipe is something that lots of seniors all around the country use, not just here in New York,” he said. “Who would’ve thought…people have mobile phones that are intelligent. People have tablets. People have desktop computers at home and they actually are using them. And we all think that technology is just for the young people — that’s not true…Seniors have a need and they look for ways to solve their problems and technology in many cases is the answer.”
Bloomberg, alongside Dept. for the Aging Commissioner Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, said that the city’s first eight “Innovative Senior Centers” are now open with enhanced programming. They have expanded hours on evenings and weekends, and also include cafe-style flexible meal times, his office reported. In terms of the “innovation,” the centers include programs specifically for LGBT New Yorkers and ones for visually impaired seniors. Later this year, the city will open two more in Brooklyn. The center where the press conference was held serves over 400 seniors a day.