IT Heroes: PCs for students in need

Over the past few weeks, ITWorldCanada has been using this space to applaud individuals and corporations who are using information technology to significantly improve the lives of Canadians by profiling nominees for the upcoming Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) IT Hero Awards presented by Intel. Winners in both corporate and community categories will be announced at the ITAC Chairs’ Dinner in Toronto on June 26.

Name: Lara Tavares, Sky’s the Limit Youth Organization

Location: Toronto

In the modern education system, students who do not own their own computer on which to complete their schoolwork are at a considerable disadvantage to their peers. Lara Tavares recognized this need and founded the Sky’s the Limit (STL) Youth Organization in 2004 with a mandate to raise funds to purchase refurbished computers for under-resourced students who could not otherwise afford them. STL has placed 860 computers to date.

Drawing the program’s recipients from recommendations by teachers or guidance counsellors, partner organizations such as Pathways to Education and Youth in Motion, or through self-nomination on the organization’s web site, and evaluating their needs regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or religious beliefs, STL ensures that deserving students are provided with an orientation or training program and learn how to use a computer and the internet.

STL has found that when a student receives a computer, the whole family benefits. Students perform better in their studies and are more competitive in their academic performance while younger siblings benefit from early computer training and familiarity with technology from a young age. Recipients teach computer skills to their parents, who are then able to research, create resumes and search for jobs. Another tremendous equalizer is that with the computer, recipient families are given access to the internet, providing an excellent resource to search for work, a collaborative tool that can assist in improving social skills, and a research tool to assist with the student’s studies.

Because the computers are sourced from non-profit suppliers and the number of computers being put into landfill are minimized, this project also has positive implications for the community and the environment.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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