New computer lab unveiled at Acadiana Boys and Girls Club site

The kids in the Granberry unit of t he Boys and Girls Club of Acadiana were up to their usual cacophony of shouting, clanging and general excitement Wednesday as a new addition to the complex was unveiled.

Lafayette business leaders and more than 100 Granberry members gathered in a crowded room toward the back of the South Washington Street campus to christen a newly renovated technology center.

The lab is courtesy of a grant from Cox Communication’s philanthropic arm, The James M. Cox Foundation.

Since 2008, the foundation has partnered with Boys and Girls Clubs across the United States to install technology labs at local clubs for children whose parents can’t afford a computer or Internet access.

“This has a tremendous impact,” said Chris Martin, chief professional officer of the Boys and Girls Club of Acadiana. “(Cox is) bridging that technology gap for kids who don’t have access to computers at home.”

So far, Cox of Acadiana has secured five technology labs for area clubs.

“We’re really excited to do this,” said Julie Simon-Dronet, executive director of operations for Cox of Acadiana. “We enjoy this partnership because it affords us an opportunity to integrate with Boys and Girls Club, which is the kids’ education after school.”

With more and more schools requiring children to do homework on computers, these labs help underprivileged youth access these technologies.

Most of Granberry’s children are from homes that pull in only $12,000 to $15,000 yearly, said Harold Alexander, the club’s senior unit director.

The lab, valued at $25,000, has 10 desktop computers, educational software, a laser printer and a wireless router with access to Cox-provided high-speed Internet.

“We know that education doesn’t just happen in the classroom,” said Cox representative Patricia Thompson. “These labs are important for after-school tutoring. The kids have access to the full Microsoft suite, as well as homework help.”

Martin said the kids can’t wait to get their hands on these computers.

Ten-year-old Storm Loyd, whose parents don’t own a computer, has been a Granberry member for three years.

“During the school year, we’re going to get to learn how to go on the computers and learn things and do research,” Storm said. “I’m excited about learning how to fix the computers when they break.”

Before the recent donation, the lab had only a handful of computers for the children, putting those units in heavy use.

Granberry’s more than 500 kids will now rotate their lab time in scheduled blocks to do homework, study and use social media.

“About 200 kids a day are going to have access to these computers now,” Martin said. “It’s a win-win-win.”