By Melinda Morales
Special to the Sun-Gazette
Special to the Sun-Gazette
FARMERSVILLE – Drop by the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sequoias Farmersville unit on any weekday afternoon and you might find kids shooting hoops in the full-size gymnasium, doing homework in one of two learning centers, or learning to write code during a computer science lesson.
The club shares space in the Community Center across from J.E. Hester Elementary School and is adjacent to the Farmersville branch of the Tulare County Library system.
It’s a bustling corner alive with learning, physical activity and community interaction, an environment that nurtures kids through education, sports and citizenship. It provides kids with learning opportunities – including those coding sessions.
While many adults of a certain age can’t easily articulate what “coding” is, kids at the Farmersville Club are learning how to do it, and seeing how it could possibly lead to a career. In a program series called Hour of Code, kids are introduced to the world of computer science.
Program specialist Lourdes Campos spends her time teaching kids as young as 9 how to write code, which is the set of instructions that tells a computer what to do.
“Almost all jobs now require you to know something about technology and this is a good way to show kids a way they can develop a skill in something they already enjoy and are comfortable with,” she said.
The Hour of Code is paid for with a $5,000 grant from electronics giant Best Buy and can serve about 50 kids in Farmersville in the 2017-18 school year. It is the second grant the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sequoias has been given from Best Buy for technology learning. The first grant, for the 2016-17 school year, paid for Collaborate Remix which taught kids how to write stories together, using technology.
“There’s this huge interest in technology, and kids are interested in designing apps and learning to code,” said Carri Chambers, director of operations for the organization. “We thought this would be a fun way to spark their interest because it deals with strategy and logic, just like so many of the video games they play.”
“Years ago, kids in Farmersville didn’t have a neighborhood club to go to, or any opportunities to take specialized classes,” said Farmersville unit director Christian Cervantes. He should know – he was one of those kids.
“I used to have to go to the Exeter Boys & Girls Club when I was a kid,” Cervantes said. “In the last two years we’ve built a routine that’s positive for them so that after school they can come here, sign in, do their homework and build good habits. We fight for them to have better opportunities.”
Cervantes, who still lives in Farmersville, is proud of what the Boys & Girls Clubs can do for kids. He said that part of his job is to expose them to opportunities – like these computer science lessons – that they might not have anywhere else, so they can see a brighter future for themselves.
“I’ve been on both sides – having a club for these kids and not having it when I was a kid – and it definitely makes a difference,” he said.
Is your child interested in joining the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sequoias? Membership is $15 annually and includes a T-shirt that can be worn during community events. Go online at www.bgcsequoias.org or call 559-592-4074 to learn more.