Give them a reason to put phone down

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Those of us who have graduated to the head of the gray hair/no hair class have a couple options when it comes to younger generations.

We can complain.

Or we can connect.

Steve Cameronís insightful columns last week about the decline of intimacy in America ó clearly tied to peopleís obsession with their smartphones ó had many readers shaking their heads and longing for the days when people actually met, talked and maybe even touched.

But have hope. Passionate pickleballers and the Boys & Girls Club of Kootenai County recently built a bridge over social waters. Maybe it can be a model for more.

Lacking places to play, local pickleballers were offered court time at the Coeur díAlene B&G Club when kids wouldnít be using that part of the facility. For a donation of $3 per player per day, the pickleball aficionados could do their thing and benefit the club at the same time. Thatís a great deal all around.

Even better, though: One day recently, the pickleball players were paired with boys and girls for an hour and a half. According to one of the players, former Sen. John Goedde, the instructional session went far beyond a how-to on the growing sport. He said that for some of the kids, this was a rare opportunity to interact with an adult who was not a parent or teacher. Goedde said the kids thrived in that environment. The, um, older kids clearly got a kick out of it as well.

So hereís the deal. You can shake your head and cluck your tongue next time you see youngsters lost in cyberreality, or you can follow the lead of a troop of pickleball fanatics. You can figure out ways to connect with generations that could really benefit from some personal attention and real, live interaction, You can build bridges to a better, healthier tomorrow.

As Goedde and his pickleball pals demonstrated, it can actually be a lot of fun.

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