The Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs held the Grand Opening of their refurbished Learning Lab on Thursday, March 14, 2019. This was a happy day for the Kelowna Foundation team, as we celebrated the successful completion of a major initiative that had many moving parts and stages to get to this exciting point.
The Kelowna branch had a history of involvement with the lab years ago, and in 2017, the Foundation backyard team felt it was time to review the Club’s needs to see where we might be able to help bring the computers up to date. Two of our IT experts, John Cleveland and Dillan Collins, went to assess the situation, only to discover that the lab’s usability was hindered by its layout and furnishings.
“The room had raised platforms that were difficult to manoeuvre around,” John reported back to the team. “Previously donated chairs were so heavy, they could barely be moved.”
Discovering that the room was very challenging on so many levels and had become almost redundant for practical use, the team talked about the many ways we could contribute to its upgrade. It was unanimously resolved to make significant improvements to the entire functionality by starting from the ground up.
In October 2017, John had the opportunity to present the Kelowna team’s plans for upgrades to the Foundation Board, and he led the team in forging forward to get these plans implemented.
In spring 2018, our volunteers demolished the existing platforms to prepare for professionals to go in and create a safer and more streamlined space for the youth. A number of delays occurred throughout the process, but by September, the newly refurbished computer lab was complete.
The once complex and difficult-to-use computer lab was revealed at the Grand Opening as a vibrant, cheerful, warm and welcoming space that is now optimized for learning.
Lianna Michaylow, Director of Early Years Programs at the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs, welcomed all of the guests and thanked everyone involved in the project, many of whom were in attendance. John Cleveland also shared some thoughts about the project.
The newly re-dedicated room has 12 computers, a SMART board, work tables, ergonomic chairs, storage cupboards, and a comfortable breakout area. The children attending the Grand Opening were eager for the opportunity to jump on the computers, only tearing themselves away briefly for some celebratory cake!
Left to right: Boys and Girls Club member; Diane Entwistle (CEO, Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs); Martin Bell (CEO, Urban Systems Ltd.); Councillor Maxine DeHart (City of Kelowna); Lianna Michaylow (Director – Early Years Programs, Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs); Wade McManus (Ricoh Canada); Ross Davis (DataAnywhere)
The Boys and Girls Club has been using the space for organized programs, and will now be opening it up to further classes, study groups, meetings, and related events.
Several Urban Systems employees at the Kelowna branch are planning to volunteer their time to tutor youth in coding and various software programs.