Northwest NEWS

October 5, 1998

Features

YouthTech: Sharing technology across generations

tech

Colin Bleckner (l.) and Jordan Omley (r.) accept a donation for Youth Tech from their student, Omar Peavey.

   by Deborah Stone
  
   In 1995, a group of students led by their teacher Robert Kameko, from Kirkland Junior High, began working on a computer animation program called, "Rabbit's Revenge."
  
   With much effort and perseverance, the project was completed eighteen months later, and as a result, the program won first place and received the National Art Call Award. Sponsored by the National School Boards Association and the Institute for the Transfer of Technology to Education, the National Art Call Award recognizes excellence in the use of technology.
  
   Two of the students from the group, Jordan Omley and Colin Bleckner, now seniors at Lake Washington High School, felt they wanted to find a way to share their vision of technology with others.
  
   With the help of Jordan's father, Tom Omley, who thought the idea was wonderful, their quest led to the formation of the non-profit organization Youth Foundation for Technology and Development.
  
   YouthTech is comprised of a group of people, mostly young adults, who are skilled in computer programming, Internet usage and WebTV, as well as other technologies. Their goal is to share their knowledge of today's technology with those who may not have access to computers. This might include kids at risk, the elderly, individuals recuperating from illness and those who just want a better understanding of the technology.
  
   The Foundation offers one-on-one tutoring, in-home and classroom-training courses on computer programs, the Internet, WebTV demonstrations and specialized training to fit specific needs. Thus far, YouthTech has helped several clients, including several high school students and a retired school principal.
  
   "My grade school principal from Juanita Elementary, Omar Peavey, is now eighty-two years old," says Tom Omley. "When I mentioned YouthTech to him he was very interested in utilizing its services as he has wanted to become involved with today's technology and learn to operate a computer without having to leave the comfort of his own home. Jordan and Colin have been working with him for several months, and it has been a rewarding relationship for both parties."
  
   YouthTech provided the computer for Peavey which made it convenient for him to practice in his home. Today, he is computer literate and is planning on buying his own computer, with shopping assistance from Jordan and Colin.
  
   "Omar feels such gratification seeing the boys' enthusiasm and commitment to this project," comments Omley. "My son Jordan envisions a YouthTech school dedicated to helping prepare people with the technology skills that are so necessary for our future. He sees this as his professional and personal pursuit because he believes in it so strongly."
  
   Omley is in the process of finding a grant writer to help secure some funding to take YouthTech to the next level.
  
   He says, "The seed has been planted and has begun to grow, but now we're ready to go to the next stage in development." Donations of new and used computers are needed for the Foundation to reach its goal. A land donation for a future building site would also be much appreciated. Contributions are tax deductible. For more information contact Tom Omley at 425-788-3406.