Library's effort provides much needed computer time to KC kids - KCTV5 News

Library's effort provides much needed computer time to KC students

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The Kansas City Public Library's mission to build a community of readers is already paying off for inner-city children, who have limited access to computers.

The library has created a safe place for teens to hang out on Friday nights at Union Station. A digital learning lab is offered, where teens can hone their gaming skills, and learn how to program computers.

Carlton White, 14, loves playing video games, but he doesn't have a computer at home. He's coming to the digital learning lab to have fun and learn at the time.

"I was curious and wanted to come, and I've been in love with it ever since," the teen explained.

He's moved beyond just playing games.

"Now I'm at the stage where I want to learn how they're made," Carlton said.

And he's learning at the library's lab. Supervisors with computer programming backgrounds teach the teens skills, including coding.

"That's kind of the future, and there's real benefits in knowing the value of coding," the library's Andrea Ellis said. "Even if you don't want to be a coder in the future, even if you just want to learn how to think like a coder, because maybe you'll want to manage them."

His mother, Katrina Osborne, is thrilled.

"For him to have that at his hands, without him having to pay for it, I really enjoy it," she said.

The time at the lab has paid off in other ways for Carlton.

"I used to be real shy, and I'm breaking out of my shell and being more confident," Carlton said. "It's really improving my self-confidence."

A grant from Chicago-based MacArthur Foundation made the prototype lab possible. The foundation is researching how teens learn in a digital environment.

The funding ends on July 31. The library hopes to secure another grant, to continue the learning lab.

For more information on the program, click here.

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