On February 7, the YMCA of Greater Charlotte announced the opening of a new, state-of-the-art Best Buy Teen Tech Center, powered by Atrium Health, at its McCrorey Family YMCA.
The center is an initiative of the Best Buy Foundation and is designed to support community teens with college and career readiness. This year marks the 10th annual anniversary of the Teen Tech Center program, and Charlotte, North Carolina, will be the 52nd location joining the growing network across the country.
Natalie Ramsey, the director of communications and PR for the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, said her organization is extremely grateful for being selected as the first such Teen Tech Center in the state.
“Knowing about our long-standing work with teens and our willingness to explore new and innovative ways of engaging youth, Atrium Health encouraged us to learn more about Best Buy Teen Tech Centers,” said Ramsey. “We did research and were excited to see the amazing opportunities Best Buy Teen Tech Centers make possible for teens, as well as the benefits of partnership with The Clubhouse Network.”
The Teen Tech Center occupies 1,600 square feet at the McCrorey Family YMCA and can accommodate up to 80 teens at one time. The area is for teens between the ages of 13 to 18 and is completely free to use after registering. The facility is meant to inspire participants to develop their own creative vision and ideas while building and honing their skills using cutting-edge technology and resources.
Ramsey said stand-out features of the center include:
“Partnerships are at the core of the most impactful work our Y is able to carry out within our community,” said Stan Law, the president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, in a press release. “In teaming up with Best Buy and Atrium Health for this incredible technology center, we are able to offer teens who haven’t had access to these types of opportunities and experiences a new way to look at their futures.”
Atrium Health also recently opened its second YMCA-based virtual health clinic space through its Meaningful Medicine program at the McCrorey Family YMCA.
Ramsey said the hope for the Teen Tech Center is for it to create unity, friendships and bonds among teens within the community.
“The center creates a space designated specifically for teens to develop and foster individuality and express themselves creatively, while possibly creating their own business or skill set that could potentially lead them to a career in tech,” said Ramsey. “The YMCA of Greater Charlotte saw this opportunity as critical for providing teens in the Beatties Ford Road Corridor with access to technology, as well as the freedom to explore and create.”
For other community rec centers seeking to create a similar space. Ramsey said to seek opportunities for grants and articulate specific needs for what organizations want to see happen in their communities.
“The grants are out there and the willingness to help communities from establishments and individuals is waiting,” said Ramsey.
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