Intel Hopes Kids go 'Clubbing'

Youth interested in using computers will soon be able to do so at after-school "clubhouses."

Intel Corp. recently launched its Computer Clubhouse Network, a program to give children ages 8 to 18 from underserved communities a place to explore technology, said Rosalind Hudnell, community education program manager for Intel.

"Some students are not engaged in the traditional learning environment and after-school hours are when they're learning the most," Hudnell said. "The clubhouses provide the opportunity for a safe environment where students take the responsibility for learning ... and where they build the confidence to do it on their own."

The program, developed in conjunction with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has 15 centers, most in the Boston area. More are scheduled to open in Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, California and Washington. By 2005, 100 clubhouses are to be open worldwide.

Steve Osemwenkhae, a 19-year-old sophomore majoring in computer science at the University of Massachusetts Boston, said he was "forced by a good friend" to try a computer clubhouse years ago and hasn't looked back.

"He showed me different techniques for the Internet, like how to log on, set up an e-mail account and the beginnings of a Web page, but at first I wasn't too excited," Osemwenkhae said. But as he learned more, his interest grew. "There's a great atmosphere and learning environment, and my artistic skills began to develop as well."

Typical spots for clubhouses include community centers, youth clubs and other safe, accessible locations, Hudnell said. Most will have 16 to 20 work stations. Intel managers will staff them all, assisted by representatives from Hewlett-Packard Co., Covad Communications Co. and the Academy for Television Arts and Sciences.

More information on the program is available online at www.intel.com/education.

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