In order to involve teens in Spokane Washington, TINCAN will set up a virtual online teen center (VOTC). The goals for this project are to: 1) reduce the number of teens engaged in unproductive activities during out-of-school hours; 2) increase effective use of technology by at-risk and low-income teens; 3) enhance positive adult-teen interaction around community issues; and 4) increase the number of teens who understand the issues of the underserved and have the leadership skills to address them.
VOTC will combine in-person clubs and camps with a rich mix of online activities that can be used both to tie teens together in a meaningful virtual community and to produce interactive media productions that can be used for community action. The target audience are low income and at-risk 8th through 10th grade teens. Also targeted are teens with disabilities who lack opportunities to participate in recreational programs and often do not have the social skills to engage in civic activities.
VOTC will create a safe online environment where experimentation and dialogue is encouraged. Teens interested in drama will work with experienced actors to develop their skills and use a professional media center to put them online. Once teens can play a role, they can translate that skill to community action and learn online interactive skills to present a case for a cause they are passionate about. Teens interested in visual art will have access to tools for creating their work, including digital production, online galleries and real-time exhibits. Both drama and visual art can incorporate community stories, such as oral histories, or multi-media presentation of community issues. Budding entrepreneurs can set up businesses in TINCANís existing Young Entrepreneur Center. To facilitate these activities, focused clubs of 6-10 teens will meet weekly throughout the community. They will use existing computer labs in community centers. The project will set up its mobile labs (laptops and peripherals) throughout the community to reach underserved areas.