Flanked by a group of children at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lanier, Gov. Nathan Deal helped dedicate the organization’s new $16,000 computer lab Tuesday. He emphasized the importance of technological skills in gaining higher-paying jobs when those children become adults.
“If you acquire those skills, I can almost guarantee you’re going to have a job, you’ll be able to stay in Georgia, you will have a very high-paying job and you will be able to do what you want to do for yourself and your family,” Deal told the children. “Your future is indeed bright.”
Deal was in Gainesville for the official ribbon-cutting of the new computer lab with 40 Chromebooks at the kindergarten through fifth grade club located at 1 Positive Place. The computers were donated by International Game Technology through a program designed to provide more internet access for learning to children whose access to technology may be limited, according to Joyce Wilson, vice president for development for the clubs.
IGT donated the computers through its After School Advantage program. It is the 18th lab the company has provided in Georgia and the second at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lanier, according to Scott Gunn, IGT senior vice president for global government relations and North American business development. It is also the 291st IGT After School Advantage computer lab the company has provided worldwide.
In addition to the 40 Chromebooks, the donation also included two carts and two HP laser jet printers.
Steven Mickens, CEO of the local clubs, said he was excited to have the new computer lab, which he said will give the approximately 150 students in the program more time learning on computers while at the club.
“It gives us an opportunity to expose kids to more web-based programs,” said Mickens, who added that many of the kids in the clubs likely don’t have access to the internet at home. “An additional 40 computers means 40 additional kids are going to have access to the internet, access to technology and we can offer our web-based programs to help them bridge the gap in learning ... The surest pathway to individual empowerment is the acquisition of a comprehensive education, and that is happening at our Boys & Girls Clubs here.”
After the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Deal said technology opportunities are essential for kids who may not have access to computers at home.
“The acquisition of computer skills is certainly important to our workforce today and will be more so to the workforce of tomorrow, and the earlier that we start acquiring those skills, the better trained our workforce is going to be …” Deal said. “I dare say that most of these children don’t have access to a computer at home, but they come here and they can practice and they can acquire their skills and that will take them a long way.”
The children who stood with Deal took a seat in front of one of the computers soon after the governor, first lady Sandra Deal and others cut the ribbon officially opening the new computer room.
“They’re really cool and fancy,” said third-grader Amyah Layfield, who added that she doesn’t have a computer at home. “I can just do math stuff on it. I like that you get to play games on it.”
Tyler Robinson, also a third-grader, said he also likes learning math on the computer.
“They’re nice; I’m thankful for the people that gave them to us,” he said.
Wilson said the club has another lab with about 20 computers, but added “we’re always needing additional computers because we have so many (students).”
“It’s a new lab, and we’re going to run specific programs out of there,” Wilson said. “They’re all internet-based programs, all educational-based. It’s all safe because we have internet software to keep them from going to places they shouldn’t.”