Computer Lab Brings Fresh Opportunity at Dreamcenter

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As the country celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the International Dreamcenter of Lansing celebrated a new computer lab -- and that was no coincidence.

"We're all about dreamcasting for people and that's why we love the 'I have a dream,'" said Dr. LaClaire Bouknight, the center's director. "We want kids to dream."

To help children achieve those dreams, Bouknight cut the ribbon on a six-laptop computer lab. The software on those computers is intended to help kids establish computer literacy and provide stimulation.

"When you can engage a child multidimensionally with colors, with things moving, then you will have them attain and gather more information," said Dr. Chiarina Owens, a psychologist and director of the center's kids program. "And so here, we're aiming at helping children dream, identify what those dreams are and then achieve those dreams."

The center seeks to serve the underprivileged -- those who don't have computer access at home -- but it also will be a supplement to those that do.

"We're using it to impart information that will enhance their lives, but also it's a way to get them to feel as though they're having fun doing it," said Owens.

Ultimately, she says, the lab will open to older kids who can use the computers and their tech savvy to secure jobs.

"We believe in supporting the underdogs and the people who are sort of disenfranchised," said Bouknight. "Lansing has suffered greatly with unemployment and we've just been thrilled to see the positives that come out of people getting assistance with computer skills."

The Dreamcenter is a branch of Eaglevision, a workforce development program for people with barriers. The Lansing location opened in August 2013. It seeks to provide jobs and training to the underprivileged.

The Dreamcenter already has a computer lab downtown for adults searching for jobs. The lab on Cedar St. is targeted at kids and strengthening their emotional and social skills.

"There's two components," said Morgan Milner, a father of four who was at the lab's grand opening. "There's the technology component where they'll get access to the actual equipment, but then there's the social component--being part of the community, interacting with the people they live near and around, meeting people that they wouldn't otherwise meet and having the experience of sharing those stories and opportunities."

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