The Boys & Girls Clubs of Portage County recently established a Quality Internet Lab at their Ravenna, Ohio location. The lab consists of two iMacs, four eMacs and high-speed internet connectivity via Road Runner and Apple’s Airport wireless networking hardware.
“The Club’s computer lab and internet connectivity are both made possible by a generous grant from The Community Technology Fund of Ohio.” said Matt Harper, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Portage County. “The lab is a great way for our kids to learn about the Internet in a safe setting that’s directly supervised by adults.”
The lab has been functional since the beginning of July and the computers have been extremely popular with the kids. The kids think that they are “the coolest thing since sliced bread,” Wayne A. Harold, grant coordinator for the Club, told MacCentral. They’ve also won over staff members who were anti-Mac, he added.
“They’ve been running for a number of weeks, and we haven’t had a problem yet,” Grant said. “And this summer we’ve been averaging about 70 kids a day, so it’s been Standing Room Only with kids having to sign up in advance to get on the computers. I just go in after closing time and wipe them down good. For some reason kids really love to touch those doggone screens.”
The clubs are in the middle of their Summer Program, so the kids have been primarily using the eMacs for fun, such as surfing the Web and playing games. When school starts in the fall, half of the computers will probably be reserved for homework, and the kids will really be able to take advantage of the Internet when it comes to doing research for school assignments, Harold said.
“We have a very successful after school Homework Help program, and the eMacs will be integrated into that,” he said. “I’m trying to get a few digital still cameras and a camcorder donated, so as soon as that happens I plan on teaching the kids video editing via iMovie. Then we’ll also be able to start a digital photography program.”
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Portage County were established in the late 1940s. Its mission is to “inspire and enable all young people to realize their full potential as productive, responsible, and caring citizens.”
Why did the clubs choose Macs? A number of years back they got a smaller grant for computers and the folks in charge insisted that they be Windows-compatible PCs. They lasted about a month before they started having “massive problems” and were “generally worthless a year or two later.”
“Now, granted, no one here at the time was a Windows expert; we took them into the local computer repair shop and had them gone over a few times, but being a non-profit organization, we simply could not afford to do that on a regular basis,” Grant said. “I wrote this grant specifying Macs. I use a SuperDrive-equipped Quicksilver G4 at home, and for the video work that I do as part of my own business. I also use an iBook for my Club duties as grant coordinator/PR person. It also helped that the executive director at the Club uses an iMac in the main office for all of his Club work; he took over soon after the PC fiasco and was also frustrated by the Windows machines.”
The eMac is a great computer, tailor made for this sort of educational setting, said Harold. He finds them to be “very powerful and very, very rugged machines.” Apple also includes great ‘digital hub’ applications with their Mac OS X system software, he added.