Foundry Penticton Helping Youth Bridge Digital Divide

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PENTICTON- A digital lending program is helping youth who face barriers with access to technology thanks to a new partnership between Foundry Penticton and Penticton Public Library. The youth centre’s collection of Chromebooks is helping young people ages 12-24 to keep up with online schoolwork and appointments for counselling and primary care during the pandemic.

“We were excited when the library approached us with news of a grant from Ministry of Education to enhance access to digital services and information technology,” says Melisa Edgerly. “They identified venerable youth as one audience to benefit from their grant, as like us, they were seeing situations where youth were struggling to participate in online classes and appointments because they didn’t have computers or internet connectivity.”

While the vast majority of young people have access to internet, there is a small percentage who are living with financial hardships or precarious housing who need supports to bridge a digital divide. More common, is youth from lower-income households need to share devices with other family members or have devices with limited functionality to fully participate online.

“A collaboration with Foundry Penticton made good sense and represents a new, important partnership,” says Dan Lerch, Systems Librarian with Penticton Public Library. “Together we provide access to vital technology, offering services to youth through a single access point.”

“Foundry is a place for young people to call their own and access a variety of services like physicians, sexual health, counselling, employment, recreation, peer supports and other social services,” explains Edgerly. “We often meet youth who are living with different challenges or barriers. During the pandemic we have seen youth struggling to complete schoolwork or attend on-line appointments for mental and physical health. This new program is helping us respond and improve e-inclusion.”

Penticton Library purchased 10 Chromebook computers, with a value or $5,700, to start the digital lending program. The youth centre may add other devices and tools depending on local needs and uptake from youth.

“Youth are now using the free digital resources,” says Edgerly. “I recently received a social media message from a teenage girl who thanked us for the laptop, as it was very helpful for her online schooling and communicating with her social worker and siblings.”

To learn more of Foundry’s digital lending program for young people, people can drop by 501 Main Street on Tuesday/Thursday afternoons or contact Melisa Edgerly at 778.646.2292 or Melisa.Edgerly@oneskycommunity.com

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About Foundry Penticton

Foundry Penticton offers young people ages 12-24 with health and wellness resources, services and supports. The youth centre is operated by OneSky Community Resources who works collaboratively with numerous community organizations: Interior Health, Ministry of Children and Family Development, Okanagan Boys & Girls Clubs, Pathways Addictions Resource Centre, YMCA Okanagan, South Okanagan Brain Injury Society and other community partners.

For more information:

Melisa Edgerly They/Them or She/Her
Peer Support & Outreach Worker, Foundry Penticton C: 250.488.0992
P: 778.646.2292
E: Melisa.edgerly@oneskycommunity.com