On May 11, the Linwood YMCA will open up their Linwood Teen Tech Center for youth to participate in Esports and other educational activities.

The Linwood Teen Tech Center will initially be available to fifth through 12th graders in the Linwood YMCA’s Launch Pad after-school program, and will be available for the entire community starting on June 1.

Youth in the Linwood YMCA’s after school Launch Pad program. 

“The Teen Tech Center is a place for kids to do something they would have never done at school or home because it’s very expensive,” said Andre Sigler, executive director at the Linwood YMCA. “We’re trying to put a lot of fun into it and give the kids the opportunity to do something they’ve never done before.”

The Linwood YMCA Teen Tech Center will give local youth an opportunity to have safe fun, while learning about and be exposed to technology and STEM activities. 

At the center, students will be able to learn and make their own podcast, learn how to code, use a 3D printer, design and print on t-shirts and participate in computer science lessons and STEM-related experiments.

A huge part of the center that Sigler is especially excited about will be the Esports program. The Linwood YMCA partnered up with Urban Technology Empowered Communities (Urban TEC), to create an Esports urban core team in the Teen Tech Center.

Urban TEC is a local nonprofit teaching digital literacy skills to students, teachers and parents in Kansas City’s urban core. Founder Ina Montgomery is hoping to close the digital literacy divide in urban schools and communities and empower them through technology.

“There’s still a lot of inequity in tech,” Montgomery said. “If you’re coming out of high school and you’ve never had an IT or computer science class, you may struggle breaking into a tech career because you have no background to be successful.”

Montgomery, who will be focusing on teaching youth participants gaming strategy and concepts for the Linwood YMCA’s Teen Tech Center Esports program, said there is not a league for Kansas City gamers in the urban core, and wants to create one where kids can compete in tournaments.

Esports is short for electronic sports and takes video gaming to another level with rules and guidelines. Participants attend team meetings, practices and matches where they work on communication, strategic thinking, leadership and sportsmanship. Players also spend time analyzing data and game statistics.

Students will be able to play and compete in console games like Madden, NBA 2k, Halo, Fortnite, Minecraft, as well as PC games at the center.

“It’s really integrating education and gaming,” Montgomery said. “You can apply it to be successful in their core subjects like reading, math, language arts.”

Sigler said the new space is part of his overall goal to make the Linwood YMCA more youth-focused, creating more youth-based activities to keep kids safe and busy, while learning important skills that could help them in a STEM or tech career. 

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