the computer clubhouse
By Mike Barresi
the renovations were made, computers were added to the front
desk and the director’s office. But more importantly, computers
are scattered throughout the club, Danielle Martin, director of
There is a “Computer Clubhouse” in all five Boston
Boys & Girls Clubs. The “clubhouse” is a concept
taken from The Computer Museum and the MIT Media Lab, which focus
on project-based learning, Martin said.
Charlestown Boys and Girls Club
“The philosophy of the whole computer-based initiative is
that computers aren’t only in the computer clubhouse,” Martin
said. “They’re in the library and the teen center” as
Any kid can take part in the computer programs at the club, but
only certain kids continue to show up for the workshops. A junior
tech team, Martin said, just completed making a movie. The kids
wrote a script, then shot and edited their own film.
Martin is one of two full-time employees who work in the clubhouse.
Since the learning programs are project based,
any “classes” per se, Martin added. Instead, a couple
of nights a week from 6 to 8 p.m., workshops for specific learning
programs such as Photoshop, digital animation, graphic design or
web design are held, she said.
The Boys & Girls Clubs have always been a place where school-aged
kids could go to play, study and learn skills.
And, more than 110 years after the first Boys & Girls Club
opened its doors in Charlestown, the kids still do play games—from
basketball to pool. They can still get special tutoring in math,
English, science and history. But the skills learned have changed.
Inside the club, children who may not get technology training
in cash-strapped schools or at home have the opportunity to take
part in a number of computer programs.
Why is learning computers and technology so important?
Atkinson said that the kids need to be doing well in school,
so when they
graduate from high school, they’ll be prepared for the 21st
century workforce. “Vocational skills won’t necessarily
help kids any more,” she said.
focus on educational skills isn’t “meant to devalue
sports and activities,” Atkinson said, because while playing
sports, the kids learn social skills to blow off steam. This is
still supposed to be a fun club, she said.
and goals of the clubhouse