Students at the Greater Smyrna-Clayton Boys & Girls Club are preparing for the future thanks to a program at the community center that is teaching them about technology.

Club Tech is a worldwide initiative in the Boys & Girls Club that launched in 2000 with the goal of leveling the playing field by providing young people with technology resources to aid them in performing better in school and, eventually, the workplace, according to Program Director Letisha Hines.

While the program has been around for some time, Smyrna's Club Tech was recently upgraded thanks to a $20,000 grant the center received from the Comcast Foundation. The money enabled the club to purchase new equipment to better help the students.

Hines said the grant has greatly enhanced Club Tech. Not only were they able to get new computers for Club Tech, but computers and other equipment like a smart board for other classrooms.

Better services

With Club Tech, students have the chance to learn everything from basic technical skills to video game development.

Hines said Boys & Girls Clubs around the world use Club Tech to teach roughly 1 million kids and teens every year to build their digital skills, and help them perform better in school.

"Club Tech is important because it provides programming, training, and resources to make Boys & Girls Club members and professional staff effective users of technology and workforce ready," Hines said. "Technology access and aptitude is vital for school and workplace success. To develop such skills in members – many who otherwise wouldn't have this chance – clubs must provide access to technology programming led by tech-savvy club professionals."

Smyrna's Club Tech currently has 65 members participating; the program is available to club members. The Boys & Girls Club teachers are responsible for creating a curriculum for their specific age group.

Increased participation

The response from the children and students with the new equipment has been positive, with each child liking the program for different reasons.

"Our youth absolutely love to use all forms of technology," Hines said. "There has been an increase in active participation and engagement."

Polytech sophomore Crystal Muñoz, 16, has been a member at the Boys & Girls Club since she was 10 years old. The computers help her do research, homework and other school-related activities. Since the computers have been updated, Muñoz said things have been much better.

North Smyrna Elementary students Nathan Carter, 9, and Joshua Moore, 10, also like the new equipment. Moore said the computers help him with homework and research, while Carter simply likes that the computers have larger screens.

Clayton Elementary students Julia Joslyn, 8, and Rebecca Dubois, 5, like playing games on the computers. Joslyn and Dubois may think they are just playing games on the computers, but Hines said they are also learning competencies such as geometry and social studies.

Even though the Boys & Girls Club just received the Comcast Foundation grant, they are always looking for more grants.

"There's still a need, but this is a lot better than what we did have," Hines said.

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