PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Comcast is launching WiFi connected Lift Zones at 11 community centers across Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast to provide students with safe spaces to connect to the internet to participate in virtual classes and other activities.
The West Palm Beach Police Athletic League on Tamarind Avenue was one of the first to pilot the program back in September.
CEO Jervonte Tae Edmonds says at that time, it allowed about 35-40 kids to participate in their virtual learning for school, who otherwise did not have high speed internet access at home.
Now he says, the center has returned to its normal operating hours of 3 p.m to 8 p.m. and students use computers and the WiFi to access new programming and opportunities they didn't have before.
"We are trying to make a difference not just for the kids but the entire community, so we're teaching skill sets that are going to help put those kids in a position to go off to college or into a trade, but a lot of that is due in part to the WiFi we were accessible to," said Edmonds. "We really didn't have that high speed internet before then- we had maybe 4 or 5 people on the internet. The things we are doing now we're able to have zoom discussions from the best of the best speakers from all over the country now to really make an impact on kids."
Edmonds says the pandemic really highlighted the digital divide, especially in the Tamarind community.
"We're taking kids that come from one of the toughest environments and giving them the opportunity to succeed through academics, education and sports, so we would love anybody to come by our center and invest in our center as much as we invest in our kids," said Edmonds. "It's been able to impact not just the kids but the community. A lot of our community members here on Tamarind don't have access to WiFi and the internet so we've been able to give some parents and different groups access," he says.
He hopes this partnership is in place long term.
The Comcast WiFi lift zones are located at:
-Banner Lake Community Center in Hobe Sound
-City of Pahokee Community Gymnasium
-Compass Community Center in Lake Worth
-Guatemalan Maya Center in Lake Worth
-Hispanic Human Resources Council in West Palm Beach
-Hobe Sound Community Chest
-Indian River Youth Guidance in Vero Beach
-Martin County Police Athletic League in Palm City
-The Milagro Center in Delray Beach
-The Riviera Beach Youth Empowerment Center
-West Palm Beach Police Athletic League
There are also 18 lift zones created in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties.