Maurice Harris, a group leader at the Independence unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City, said the club isn’t day care.
Rather, it’s a place designed to enrich the lives of the young people it serves.
“We strive to educate. We want them to have fun, and we try to build character,” said Harris, who’s worked at the Club since the summer. “… We work (toward) those goals every day.”
On Thursday afternoon, Boys & Girls Club officials and Comcast NBC Universal unveiled at the Independence unit a new technology initiative that adds another educational component to Boys & Girls Clubs.
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My.Future is being piloted through five individual clubs of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City: two locations in Independence, two in Kansas City and one in Kansas City, Kan.
Comcast eventually hopes to teach nearly 4 million youth through more than 4,100 Boys & Girls Clubs across the country about the “digital world and ignite their passion for technology,” according to a news release.
Locally, the program is funded through a three-year, $45,000 grant through the Comcast Foundation. The money can be used for equipment and hardware at individual clubs, depending on each club’s need.
The technology program allows participants to select from more than 40 activities meant to improve digital literacy by exploring the Internet, communicating via digital platforms and creating media. It also provides advanced topics such as robotics, coding and game design.
“What we do here at the Clubs, ultimately, is provide so many of these young people with not only a safe place to be in a structured environment, but also resources for them to ultimately graduate high school with that post-secondary plan in mind,” said Jason Roth, senior director of development with Greater Kansas City Boys & Girls Clubs. “We rely heavily on community partners to make that happen.”
The activities complement what students are learning in school, he said.
Nautic Simpson, 15, a sophomore at William Chrisman High School in Independence, has been going to the Boys & Girls Club for about five years. He said he’s interested in pursuing computer programming in college, and hopes to learn more skills through My.Future.
“It sounds interesting, and I’m excited,” he said. “…It should help a lot and that experience should help me expand my skills.”
Jamel Malone, teen services director for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City, said My.Future adds another valuable component that should help the organization in its mission to see young people graduate from high school and pursue post-secondary education.
“There is always so much to be had here at the club in terms of education and career readiness,” Malone said.
David Grubbs, an area sales manager for Comcast, said community contributions are important to Comcast and its employees.
“It’s the way we’ve done business for about 50 years, so we’re very excited to be a part of this.”
Missouri Reps. Ira Anders of Independence and Randy Dunn of Kansas City, also attended last week’s event.
“There’s so many success stories that come out of Boys & Girls Club, and I hope this is going to add to that, and I’m sure it will, and I appreciate Comcast doing this,” Anders said.