Meet Tak Sato, a North Olmsted resident working tirelessly to enrich the lives of Northeast Ohio’s senior citizens through technology education and instruction.
As Founder of the Center for Aging in the Digital World, Tak and his wife Mely, Executive Director, make it their mission to equip their senior citizen students with basic knowledge to utilize and benefit from the internet while promoting lifelong learning, personal growth and connectedness in the digital world. They call this “digital literacy” and believe that it has become a necessary life skill of the 21st century.
Through the creation of their nonprofit and subsequent 501(c)(3) approval in 2016, and with the support from the North Olmsted Senior Center, Tak and Mely graduated 12 seniors, ages 62 to 86, from their first “Discover Digital Literacy!” program last December. Another 12 seniors recently graduated from the neighboring westshore city of Westlake, making the number of alumni who has discovered digital literacy to 24. Interest cards and the chance to be in this fall’s program is currently being collected at the North Olmsted Senior Center.
Tak and Mely’s program provides each participating senior with a Power of OneSM device, aka “tablet”, for use during the 10 week program. Intuitiveness of the tablet instead of learning on a traditional computer is one of the signature differentiators of their program. More information on this innovative program can be found here and more information of their nonprofit can be found here.
Tak traces his roots in technology and business back to his childhood days of helping his family business. Born and raised in Yokohama, Japan, Tak attributes his early interest in technology to the first programming course he took in his Freshman year in high school using the Apple IIe computer: “That was the pinnacle of personal computer technology back in the day,” joked Tak. “However, this early exposure helped me realize my passion for using technology as an unifying medium.” Following his time at St. Joseph International School, coincidentally having an Ohio connection as the school was run by the Marianists (Catholic order) from Dayton, Ohio, he was invited by a visiting English professor from Borromeo College in Wickliffe to attend college in the then-distant land of Cleveland, Ohio. According to Tak, “I was presented with a choice between attending Sophia University in Tokyo or singly moving to Cleveland to pursue higher education upon graduating from high school. Being young, I couldn’t wait to get far away from my hometown!” Now that he is older, he wishes that Yokohama was closer so he can visit family more often.
After moving to Northeast Ohio in 1986, Tak graduated from Cleveland State University with his Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science in 1991. He also met his wife Mely during this time, a fellow student at CSU. Tak eventually returned to CSU to earn his Executive MBA, graduating in 2007. After the conclusion of his 18-year tenure in retirement services, connecting the dots between technology and business, Tak branched out with Mely to start their consulting business and almost immediately began pondering how to address the ever-growing need for digital literacy among senior citizens. “Since the inception of the consulting business in 2011, we have been giving community outreach presentations to senior centers, libraries and eldercare facilities in Northeast Ohio to help demystify technology and explain the benefits of digital literacy”, said Tak. “I am very fortunate to be able to work with Jackie Anderson and her staff at the North Olmsted Senior Center to organize our series of ten week programs.” For each program, Tak and Mely equip their senior citizen students with basic knowledge to utilize and benefit from the internet while promoting lifelong learning, personal growth and connectedness in the digital world.
When asked about the overall objective of his work, Tak is very clear: “My aim is to use a holistic teaching approach, the “Satosan Method” named in honor of my parents who would wake up at 2AM Japan time to conduct a video chat session with the seniors attending our community outreach presentations, to ensure our students’ lives are fully enriched by technology.” Additionally, Tak cites the advent of email and text messaging as simple communication channels allowing senior citizens to keep in touch with their friends and family. These channels are very important as communication preferences continue to change between generations. “For those with reduced mobility or limited access to transportation, these digital channels become lifelines to keep them connected to their loved ones,” said Tak. “My wife and I are very fortunate to be able to share our knowledge with our students.”
Tak has lived in his North Olmsted home since 1999 with his wife and son. In his personal time, he and Mely enjoy watching his son participate in the North Olmsted Recreation Center’s excellent sports programming and also frequenting the many exceptional libraries in the westshore area. North Olmsted is their second home!