GARDEN CITY, Idaho — Editor's note: This content is sponsored by CapEd Credit Union.
Teenagers at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Ada County's teen center can now go on an adventure to space with their feet still firmly planted on Earth.
They can do a spacewalk around the International Space Station using the organization's new virtual reality system.
Boys and Girls Clubs of Ada County Chief Operations Officer Joey Schueler says it is one piece of technology the nonprofit recently bought with a large grant from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. He calls it an "innovative chance" for a child to think about a possible career path in science and engineering.
Younger club members used different technology to take a virtual tour of the San Diego Zoo. They got to see inside the habitat of the animals and talk with zoo staff about conservation.
"You know we just opened a whole other world for kids to learn, discover and grow, and that's what we want," Schueler said.
Brand new electronic board games allow the kids to play the classics, like Monopoly, Battle Ship and Hungry, Hungry Hippos, but they can also gobble up the basics.
"Kindergartners can learn their colors and their numbers, things like that," Schueler said. "And then there are more advanced games kids can get into that get into a little bit more of critical thinking skills and learning how, what and why they should be doing in this world."
Club members can also work on number recognition, memorization, agility and reaction skills with the clubs' new interactive floor game projector.
"So they're getting direct response from their actions and motions on the screen through the projection interaction," Schueler said.
Schueler says many kids don't have a laptop or computer at home, so it's important for them to have these high-tech experiences at the Boys and Girls Clubs.
It's really critical that kids learn the skills that they need to be not only effective in the digital world, but also safe in that world," Schueler said.
It all builds on the clubs' core priorities of building character and leadership, healthy lifestyle and academic success.
"Kids themselves are just amazing in that they can develop in such a healthy direction if they're given the tools, and that's what we're really here to do," Schueler said.
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Ada County has eight facilities; the main clubs in Garden City, Meridian and Kuna, as well as five others based at elementary schools. The clubs served nearly 3,000 children in 2021.
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