I work at Global Kids, a 20 year old youth development nonprofit that has helped tens of thousands of at-risk youth in New York City succeed scholastically, go on to college and become active civic leaders. From our perspective, all of America's young people -- whether poor or rich, Black or White, in urban centers or remote rural communities -- deserve a chance to meaningfully participate in our increasingly digital society. In order to do that, they require access to affordable, accessible broadband internet, in their schools, libraries and homes.
I recently organized a virtual fossil dig for a group of 11 New York City teenagers at Global Kids. From our headquarters, these young people were able to go online and learn about paleontology, evolution, African society and culture. They engaged in VOIP voice conversations with scientists digging for fossils in Zambia, watched videos of young people like themselves in a rural African village talking about the challenges of HIV/AIDS, and researched online about ancient mammals and reptiles long extinct. Their minds were opened to ways of life, career paths, and areas of study that they didn't know anything about prior to the camp. Oh, and they had fun in the process.
As one of our teens Rowana wrote, "Over the past two weeks, I think that I have developed better communication skills. I'm a shy person and I'm not used to being thrown into problem solving situations with strangers, but IDZ [the virtual camp] forced me to communicate better with others."
All of this was made possible by broadband internet and the applications that rely on it -- from VOIP to streaming video to virtual worlds.
This is just one example of how broadband internet can do more than just educate, it can inspire and open minds.
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