Free Web access at Oakland recreation centers

July 14, 2009 11:58:06 AM PDT
The city of Oakland is partnering with a high tech provider to offer free computers and Internet access at two dozen recreation centers. The kick-off is at a new computer center dedicated to the late Mother Wright, who served Oakland's poorest residents.

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If you live in Oakland one new way to communicate with the world and beat the heat is to head inside one of any of its recreation centers citywide and hop on a computer, even surf the Internet -- all for free.

Oakland's recreation centers are a haven for outdoor activities, but now all 24 of them offer a technological reason to head inside as well -- there are 200 refurbished computers, donated by the Port of Oakland, that have been hooked up and are available for everyone from school children to senior citizens to use for free.

The project is a collaboration between the city and the Oakland Technology Exchange, a group working to give people of all socioeconomic backgrounds access to the digital world. City and community leaders gathered to announce this effort to help all citizens be informed -- a way they say to bridge the 'digital divide'.

"Here's a tremendous opportunity to open up the floodgates of information. To literally open up the world to people in communities across Oakland -- to level the playing field," said Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums.

"Especially teenagers and young people can come in and use the computer to access the latest jobs that are available," said Dir. of Defremery Recreation Center Valorie Winn.

Mayor Ron Dellums visited children using the computers; many were playing games but also building computers skills. The mayor emphasized that building tech skills and knowing how to handle a computer will help open job opportunities as well.

A lot of the volunteer work setting this up comes from people who work for Bay Area companies like Google and the Gap.

The computer center has also been dedicated to honor the late Mother Wright who is renowned in Oakland for her work serving the poor.

The centers will be available permanently from here on forward.

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