Two computer labs in Ward 7 and one in Ward 5 specifically tailored for at-risk youth got a complete renovation in hopes to serve as model for how residents interact with technology in recreation centers across the city.
D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) announced the unveiling of three new tech lounges with the first launch at Deanwood Recreation Center in Northeast on Thursday, Dec. 7.
Each lounge will have a separate launch event to showcase its complete remodel to the community this December.
“The old concept of a computer lab is dead,” said DPR Director Keith A. Anderson. “Our new tech lounges are more comfortable and vibrant with bigger screens, and faster internet speeds; making them destinations for technology, learning and fun as opposed to just a place to check email.”
The new tech lounges are located at Deanwood, Riggs LaSalle and Hillcrest Recreation Centers. Each lounge boasts a 65-inch Smart TV, iPads and computers with 27-inch monitors.
The décor includes cocktail tables and armless, low back chairs, with sofas and lounge chairs for a more sociable setting.
“A tech lounge is a public room in which to sit, relax and interact with technology,” said Michael Tucker, DPR public affairs specialist. “There is nothing cold about this environment, even the new paint on the walls and carpet on the floor serve a purpose in creating the feel of the room.”
The visual backdrop of the interior incorporates color-coordinated carpeting and accented walls with graphics.
Recreation centers housing the lounges have Wi-Fi connection for better connectivity and the new computers have an e-gaming capacity. Beyond computers, tech lounge entertainment ranges from video games to board games.
DPR wanted to start their new wave of innovative computer labs in the areas of the District that need it the most.
“This is just the beginning of our tech lounges,” Tucker said. “We want to make a difference in the community, starting with Ward 5 and 7 and connecting with at-risk youth. Deanwood, for example, had a barely-used teen room that was drab and uninviting. The most it was used for was to charge cellphones.
“Our new tech lounge launched on December 7 at Deanwood brought in over 60 kids, which means they were off the street and doing something constructive in a safe environment,” he said.
During the day, the lounges are focused on helping seniors navigate new technology. After 3 p.m., they become a safe teen tech hub.
The new concept speaks directly to youth while still being accessible to seniors, DPR said.
“During the day we see a lot of seniors, so it is very important to have them connect with new technology and this allows them a comfortable setting to do so,” Tucker said. “We have staff to help them and some facilities like Deanwood have computer training for seniors. We are looking to add more programming and are excited at what’s possible in this new space.”
The next Tech Lounge launch events are Thursday, Dec. 14 at Riggs LaSalle Recreation Center in Northeast from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. and Dec. 21 at Hillcrest Recreation Center in Southeast.
“This is an effort to move DPR facilities forward,” Tucker said. “This is a way to bring the community inside our recreation centers to experience the many resources and activities available. The plan is that each new facility, like Marvin Gaye Recreation Center in 2018, will include a tech lounge and there are more tech lounges to come at our current sites.”