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Boys & Girls Clubs receives 40 laptops from UnitedHealthcare
Kahlil Jackson, 10, joins others getting acquainted Tuesday with 40 laptop computers donated by United Healthcare at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County in Gainesville. The refurbished laptops allow more youngsters at the club to access the Internet for their studies.

For an underserved youth, practicing mathematics or reading skills outside the classroom can be difficult.

Thanks to UnitedHealthcare, nearly 600 underprivileged children in the area now have access to high-quality laptop computers to practice lessons after school.

On Tuesday, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County received 40 refurbished laptops, which children will use for educational games and lessons.

“What we’re doing is using a program called Stride Academy,” said Steven Mickens, chief professional officer with the clubs. “It’s a program that measures a kid’s academic progress based on the Common Core standards here in Georgia.”

Mickens said there are lessons and activities for every subject based on a child’s grade level, from preschool through 12th grade. He said the program asks children to answer several questions, then rewards them with a one-minute game.

Mickens said having 40 additional computers allows more students at the Boys & Girls Clubs to use Stride Academy at once.

“It also gives them an opportunity, because they are laptops, to work remotely,” Mickens said. “That helps us out a lot.”

In the clubs’ main facility is now a room dedicated as a computer lab, with the majority of the laptops stationed there. Another computer lab will be in the Teen Center, and a few computers will go to the Joseph F. Walters Club’s technology center for the same purpose.

Mickens said the clubs continually communicate with area schoolteachers to ensure the program is covering the same material the students are learning.

“The great thing about this is it does align with Georgia standards of Common Core. So whatever they’re learning in school, we know exactly where they are because we have relationships with the schools.”

Kevin Herglotz with HPA Strategies public relations firm said UnitedHealthcare donated a total of 250 computers to 14 organizations in Georgia. Additionally, more than 2,600 computers in 18 states across the nation have been donated.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County received the largest donation the state. The second largest was Atlanta’s Latin American Association, which received 25 computers.

“Here in Georgia, we’re able to put 250 of these computers right here in your communities at the organizations where there are underserved individuals that we know need to connect to health care,” said Carol Martin with UnitedHealthcare. “In the way that the Stride program connects students to all these important activities, we know it’s also important to connect to health care.”

Mickens said he’s grateful for the opportunity to use technology to engage young people. He said it is more motivational for children to use the computer after school than to sit again in a traditional classroom setting.­

“We just want to be sure we’re helping bridge the gap of some of the deficiencies in these subject areas that deal with the Common Core standards,” Mickens said. “Our goal is to get these kids to graduate. That’s ultimately what we want.”

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