KLRU’s Partnerships Make Our Neighborhood Stronger

Posted on May 22, 2018

KLRU has the privilege to work with three wonderful early childhood partners: Thinkery, Communities In Schools of Central Texas and Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area (BGCAA). Together we conduct camps and workshops for at-risk families designed to make learning more accessible and exciting.

When KLRU approached BGCAA over five years ago about how they could offer assistance, the answer was easy: more technology. KLRU followed-up by providing tablets loaded with researched-based PBS KIDS content. The tablets give young “Club members” access to online content that is engaging and curriculum-based—kids have fun while secretly learning!

Erica Egan, Director of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Education at BGCAA, recently shared just how important KLRU resources are to her program.

“KLRU’s online digital resources allow us to access a catalogue from everything from social and emotional learning to technology resources.”

Using “ PBS KIDS Scratch Jr.,” an interactive app, these tablets are now the backbone of a workshop that introduces young learners to the basics of coding through play. Children aged 5-8, along with their caregivers, attend a four week Scratch Jr. course at BGCAA locations. Families are first given time to unwind and share a meal, followed by STEM activities. During these sessions kids and adults are exposed—often for the first time—to personal technology and computer science concepts. By the end of the four week course, children are animating PBS characters, all through hands-on coding practices. Coding is the new literacy, and exposing young minds to these engineering skills at an early age gives them a leg up in the 21st Century workforce.

“I think these workshops have built a wonderful sense of community within our clubs. Being an out-of-school time provider we don’t always get access to parents, and if we’re able to bring them together to not only meet one another, but to participate in an educational activity with their children, that’s super meaningful.”

Erica has seen up close what a difference these workshops make in the day-to-day lives of both adult and child participants. One mom, after a long work day, even approached Erica following a session to say that it had turned her day completely around. The positive connections made between kids, parents and computer science empowers these families to tackle new opportunities with confidence.

“One of our core values here at Boys and Girls Club of the Austin Area is fun. And with the playful learning opportunities that are provided by KLRU, we’ve been able to address that and go above and beyond!”

We like the way Erica sums it up. “KLRU is a great neighbor because they’re always there when you need them!” From addressing “summer slide” between school years to encouraging young people to develop important skills in a safe, entertaining environment, BGCAA is a great neighbor—and partner—too!