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UT student creates program that virtually connects seniors and teens with similar interests

The program aims to connect seniors and teens during the pandemic.

AUSTIN, Texas — Many are living through an isolated period amid the coronavirus pandemic, and having someone to talk to can make all the difference.

Allen Zhou, a University of Texas student, helped create a free program called, "Big and Mini" in order to help people connect during the pandemic. The goal of the program is to bridge the generational gap and connect teens and seniors who have similar interests.

"I got together with my friend at UT Austin, Aditi Merchant, and my younger brother, Anthony, who is in high school," Zhou said. "We just wanted to do something good to help people in the middle of COVID-19. We felt like loneliness was a huge problem and we created "Big and Mini" that connects youth and seniors with similar interests."

Zhou said seniors and teens connect through phone and video calls, so "as long as you have the internet you'll be able to chat with someone." He said the program currently has more than 1,000 users from 47 states and 18 countries.

"It's been really positive," Zhou said. "One of the first seniors to use the program had their call and it was 48 minutes long. She told us, 'Wow, my mini was so nice. Forty-eight minutes flew by in a minute.' It's nice to get this positive feedback."

Zhou hopes that the chats change the perspectives of those involved.

"I think this program shows people that no matter who you are, young or old, Black of white, you can do something to positively impact someone else and make them feel better," he said.

To learn more about the program and participate, go to the "Big and Mini" website.

WATCH: UT Austin student creates program to connect youth and seniors amid pandemic


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