It has been ten years already! Who'd have figured that? An ambitious after school program in an ignored area of Lakewood that allows youth to explore their interests with technology. Little structure, lots of chaos, decibels of noise, 100% grant supported, and a unique partnership between , the and Intel.
Honestly, at the time I interviewed for the Clubhouse Coordinator's job, I thought I'd be out of work in two years. Processor speeds were doubling consistently, everything was being made smaller - I really thought that very soon we would all have implants in our heads and we'd be happily living in virtual reality. Thankfully, I was wrong but not because of advancing technology - I was wrong due to the fact that the Clubhouse was never fully about technology. The Clubhouse has always been about giving youth a place of their own and opportunities to use tools (in our case technology) to shine, and shine brightly.
In ten years the kids have done amazing things. We have gone many directions and explored a crazy amount of software titles, websites, fads, and failures. The youth have been given much due to this successful partnership but have also given back ten-fold to the community. The Clubhouse is unique because it is free to rearrange, re-focus, or re-boot to meet the needs of youth and those to whom we give back.
As a drop-in center it is always difficult to evaluate progress for Clubhouse members. I can point out the projects that are on our servers, and I can refer folks to youtube or vimeo where they can watch our media, and I can tell success stories of our alumni. Mostly I just say "come check us out" and take delight in noticing the amazed look on faces as they watch a kid create digital art, edit a movie, program a robot or code a game.
The Clubhouse opened its doors on May 22nd, 2002. On that day, about 40 (mostly girls) from Lake City Elementary School were our first members. I remember that day and still smile. A lot of those kids are in their early 20s and starting out careers. Lake City School is now Harrison Prep but the Clubhouse is still here - 10 years later - doing great things.
Come join the Clubhouse members, alumni, mentors, and staff for cake and ice cream as we celebrate or 10th anniversary - Tuesday May 22nd, 4:00-6:00 pm. Remarks from special guests will be at 5:00.
It has been a fun 10 years!