David Ward enjoys his weekly visit to the Orillia Youth Centre, bringing his own equipment to help the kids learn how to express themselves through technology.
When he leaves, though, the Lakehead University social work student takes his equipment with him.
Thanks to a grant, the youth centre will now be able to purchase its own laptops and software so its visitors can get creative more often.
Youth centre director Kevin Gangloff applied for an $8,000 grant from the Telus Community Board in Simcoe County. The board decided that wasn’t enough. On Tuesday, board chair MaryLynn West-Moynes showed up at the youth centre with a cheque for $10,000.
“We were impressed by what you were trying to do,” she told Gangloff. “If we don’t have a generation of everyone having access to technology, how can you expect them to feel in touch?”
The grant was for technology-based programming, and Gangloff looks forward to offering it more than once a week. Much of the youth centre’s programming has a connection to mental health, and this one will be no exception. When Ward is at the centre on Tuesdays, he helps the youth learn about animation as well as recording and editing.
“We didn’t have that capability. We want to be able to offer something new,” Gangloff said. “We’re looking at different ways to address mental health. You have to come at it from different angles.”
The new software, and allowing kids to “tell their life stories using technology,” is one of those angles, he said.
Ward’s weekly contribution is what inspired the grant request, Gangloff said.
That made Tuesday’s presentation exciting for Ward, who is passionate about both technology and youth mental health.
“To have (this equipment) in here for the kids is laying the groundwork for them to explore,” he said.