Obstacles and goals of the clubhouse
By Mike Barresi


A focus on health

Linda Whitlock, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, knows that technology isn’t a cure-all for the kids of Charlestown. For kids to learn, they need to be healthy, fit and drug-free.

Whitlock hopes to bring all the Boys & Girls Clubs a health and wellness program.

Obesity in young children, especially poorer children, has become a problem that needs to be addressed, she said.

She added that the clubs intend to serve healthy snacks after school and hot meals before the kids leave, so they don’t go home hungry. (The Chelsea club currently serves 200 hot meals a day.)

Another problem Charlestown faces is the rise in the number of youths involved in drug use over the past few years, Whitlock said.

As a way to combat drug use, especially OxyContin in Charlestown, she wants to place social workers and teen leaders in each of the clubs as part of the Health and Wellness program.

There are only eight kids that show up regularly for the computer workshops and programs, Martin said.

Teens are the most difficult to get to show up every week; some come every other day, or when they feel like it, she said. They don’t tend to stick around for six or eight week projects like the younger kids do.

In order to make the entire clubhouse more user and student friendly, Martin has been working with Leo Burd, a doctoral candidate at MIT, on a project about a “user activist network.” The intention is to get the computer clubhouses throughout the country to work on “social change projects. Working with kids on a basic curriculum in order to get them from point A to point B,” Martin said.

There is still one aspect of the computer program that Martin would like to see: a wireless system. She is currently speaking with MIT about the possibility of an upgrade of the club’s existing system to one with wireless capabilities. “[PCs] are used everyday and the kids beat up on them,” she said. “If we could use laptops, we could pretty much put computers everywhere.”


Inside this story:

Charlestown Home
1. An example of the club's success
2. Fundraising and renovations
3. Inside the computer clubhouse
4. Obstacles and goals of the clubhouse



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