CLIPPERS HELP REOPEN COMPUTER LAB FOR TRANSITIONAL FAMILIES

The Los Angeles Clippers Foundation reopened the computer lab at the Salvation Army – Westwood Transitional Village on Feb. 8.

The outdated computer lab was refurbished with new computers, a mobile iPad learning lab and several new reading books and learning games. Designed to give children a quiet and safe space to read, the computer lab serves primarily as a learning space for those residing at the transitional village.

The Westwood Transitional Village is a 40-unit residential housing facility that provides support services to homeless families. Families are able to spend two years at Westwood as they stabilize and acquire the skills needed for independent life. Upon completion of a two-year period at Westwood, there is an 87 percent rate of success of families transitioning back into society.

The computer lab refurbishment was part of the Clippers Read to Achieve Program. The goal of the Read to Achieve program is to build a lifelong love of reading in young people by providing greater access to books and technology while encouraging families and adults to read regularly with young children. 

The afternoon began with a small group of children testing out the new computers and iPads in the newly-renovated computer lab. Clippers guard J.J. Redick, center Byron Mullens and guard Jamal Crawford served as teachers for the afternoon, taking time to help and interact with the participating children.

For Mullens, the computer lab reopening gave kids an opportunity to enjoy themselves.

“They're definitely having fun,” Mullens said. “As soon as they came in they had a smile on their face. We're just here to play with them, play some games, read some books, have a little fun and change things up a little bit."

For Crawford, an experience like this is all about making a memorable experience.

"It's been really cool,” Crawford said. “I wish we had the opportunity when we were younger to have professional athletes come in and hang out with us, play on computers, and different things. Hopefully these are memories that will last a lifetime; I think the kids are really enjoying it.”

To end the afternoon, several of the residing children gathered in the gymnasium for a story. Redick, Mullens and Crawford read the book “Stone Soup” aloud taking turns between reading and showing pictures. After the story was finished, the players opened up for a question and answer session, giving the children an opportunity to get to know the players even more.

Lynette, a mother of three and a resident at Westwood, talked about seeing her daughters interact with players.

“Seeing my daughters in there, it made my heart melt,” Lynette said. “I’m just happy to see that there are people out there willing to come out and work with kids and encourage them to read. It’s so important.”

Lynette’s daughter, Alaya, 8, talked about the highlight of her afternoon in the computer lab.

“My favorite part was when I was playing a game on the computer and I got help from J.J. He was really nice.”