MIT’s Media Laboratory is getting a lot of press these days with their One Laptop Per Child research program that hopes to revolutionize the Third World with $100 laptops in schools. While Canada boasts being one of the world’s leading wired nations, there are still many underprivileged kids in Toronto who don’t have easy access to a computer of their own, further widening the gap of opportunity.
Journalist and tech guru Andy Walker (author of the syndicated Cyberwalker column) is aiming to get refurbished computers into the hands of needy GTA kids with his Little Geeks organization. By February, Little Geeks plans to have 500 donated PCs on the desks of 500 children, with plans to expand across the country and into the United States.
PCs are donated to the organization, which then refurbishes and distributes them. If they wish, “Donor Geeks” can even pick their recipient “Little Geek”. Little Geeks is also looking for “Repair Geeks” and “Mentor Geeks” to round out the program. Repair Geeks whip the old system into shape with updated hardware and software whereas Mentor Geeks deliver the computer to the home, install internet connections, troubleshoot and teach the basics (including internet safety to parents).
One of the largest sources of tech landfill in the form of obsolete PCs is big business, but Little Geeks also provides unique philanthropic opportunities for the corporate sector: they need a courier or shipping company to collect computers, and they want proper office space to refurbish the equipment. They also hope for a commitment from ISPs to provide 2-year internet accounts for those 500 computers. That means you, Rogers and Bell.
We love the idea that a homegrown idea is helping to level the playing field for disadvantaged kids in the GTA. As those new PCs sit under the tree this holiday season, we encourage you to consider a new home for that old computer on the desk of a Little Geek who needs it.
If you have more than ten computers to donate or know of a child who needs a computer and who can’t access the Little Geeks site, call the hotline at 416-255-7668. Minimum computer specs are a Pentium III PC, though older and non-working PCs can still be used for parts. (Header image source: U.S. Army Photo)