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YouTube Channel Features Volunteers With Tips and Advice

AARP Colorado hosts Spanish, English channels

Colorado State Page News April 2011

Sandra Arkin, center, reviews her script with AARP staff members Angela Cortez and Jeremiah Mora before taping another program for AARP Colorado’s YouTube channel. — Matt Slaby/LUCEO Images

En español | Wearing her signature pink jacket — with makeup checked and an old-time radio microphone prop in position — Sandra Arkin receives a countdown to begin videotaping.

Arkin, who lives in Aurora, is one of 12 AARP volunteers who deliver informational messages via YouTube in a pilot program called the AARP Colorado YouTube channel.

A Spanish-language channel, AARPCO en Español, is aimed at the 12 percent of Colorado's 50-plus population that is Hispanic.

Arkin writes her own scripts, and the former teacher delivers her lines with a steady confidence.

In one segment, she discusses an AARP The Magazine story about inner genius and says that she, too, is "one of those fortunate late bloomers who has found a new beginning." In another, Arkin tells how AARP's "Fat to Fit" program helped her lose nearly 20 pounds.

The program is an effort to "tell AARP's story in a more robust way" to the state's 650,000 members, said Morie Pierce Smile, AARP Colorado state director.

It's a tool that not only engages members, she said, but allows the organization to showcase its place in the community and its outreach efforts — especially volunteer service.

The videos grew out of a challenge Smile issued to staff last year to find a way to reach boomers in a fun way. Jeremiah Mora, program specialist, suggested using YouTube, a website where videos are shared.

"We've covered everything from résumé writing to healthy behaviors to financial fraud," Mora said. "It's given us many opportunities to target diverse communities."

The informational videos are rotated regularly. The one offering advice on résumé writing was particularly popular, and other work-related messages soon followed.

One- to three-minute spots are taped weekly in the downtown Denver studio, a former conference room now decorated with adjustable lights and blankets for sound insulation. Everything is captured on a $100 handheld video camera, edited and uploaded to YouTube. Since the online video channel was launched, more than 3,500 people have watched the segments.

Smile said using YouTube is "an idea whose time has come." A recent survey found that 55 percent of AARP Colorado members use the Internet daily. Nationally, 48 percent of AARP members report daily Internet use.

Videos are more personal than other electronic forms of communication like email, Smile said.

"We have volunteers speaking to volunteers; we have volunteers speaking to members. When you hear Sandra Arkin deliver a message, you know how she feels about it. You hear the sincerity."

Staff members say Arkin is one of their stars, someone who writes well, looks and sounds good on camera, and is easy to relate to. She was one of more than 200 people who responded to a call for volunteers last spring.

Next: From boomers to octogenarians. >>

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