YMCA adds new computer lab for kids

Published 6:04 pm Friday, June 14, 2013

Summer youth are learning to use the new computer technology in the YMCA computer lab.|Carolyn Iamon

Summer youth are learning to use the new computer technology in the YMCA computer lab.|Carolyn Iamon

A new computer lab has been built at the Bainbridge-Decatur County YMCA, thanks to the inspiration of Jim Holton, YMCA sports director.

Holton had been helping a few kids with their homework after school, and found many of them needed to use the computer in his office to do their assignments. As the number of students grew, Holton began to think of building a computer lab exclusively for their use at the Y.

He posted his idea on Facebook, and within two weeks he had enough computers and money donated to make the idea a reality.

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An unused office, which had become a storage room, was converted with carpentry help from Frank Godwin, YMCA maintenance supervisor. The walls were painted by Holton, new carpeting was donated by Shaw Industries, and Brian Carnes volunteered to set up all the technology for the computers.
The new lab now houses five terminals, a printer and a scanner.

Holton explained that many of the children who come to the Y after school do not have home computers. He also began to realize that many of the schools do not give out textbooks, especially in math and science. Instead, students are given worksheets and homework, much of which is Internet-based. Holton wanted the YMCA kids to be on the same level playing field as their peers.

He has consulted with the Decatur County School system, as well as the Gilbert H. Gragg Library, and installed filtering systems on the computers so that the youth cannot visit any harmful sites.
The hours the lab is open are: Monday through Thursday, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday, 3 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.

Holton wanted to give special credit to other people who supported his idea, including John Swicord, Scott Murphy, Dave Moye and Tony Shannon.

Adam Schrott, president and CEO of the Bainbridge-Decatur County YMCA, said the computer lab was Holton’s vision, and it adds another activity kids can do at the Y. It has become Phase I of the many new services making the YMCA available to all family members.

Phase II is being developed. It includes a youth lounge, or game room, where kids can play air hockey and ping-pong. An XBox 360 is also being installed, thanks to a United Way grant, Schrott said.

An additional benefit for family members is the “Kids Zone” babysitting service, for children ages 3 months to 8 years old. Staff members and volunteers child sit while parents work out or take advantage of other Y services. The room is cheerfully decorated with murals painted on the walls by Lisa Barfield, and Harrell King has donated all of the play equipment.

Schrott said these are just a few of the ways the YMCA is changing to be a full-family service organization.