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Chester youth connected

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Chesterfield Inlet (Dec 14/05) - The Chesterfield Inlet Drop-In Centre is a lot more appealing to youth these days, thanks to the arrival of nine new computers.

The computers are the result of a year's worth of effort on the part of local RCMP Const. Allan Nickerson, who kept submitting proposals until he finally obtained funding for the project.

Nickerson said there are few activities for youth in a small and isolated community.

He said in some Northern communities, youth boredom has lead to teen suicide, crimes, lack of social attachment and no will to progress in life.

"These computers have really improved the Drop-In Centre, which is the only after-hours youth facility in the community," said Nickerson.

"The centre is a place where youth can gather and feel safe.

"The computers improve their recreation time and help prevent them from the pitfalls of youth boredom.

"That's why I kept trying, even after so many of my proposals were denied."

The hamlet's chief economic development officer, David Kattegatsiak, stepped in to help Nickerson with the proposal and resubmit it to hamlet council.

Nickerson was ecstatic when both council and the Brighter Futures committee approved the entire amount being sought.

Located in a small room in the hamlet office, the centre didn't have much to offer local youth; only a TV and 10 old computers the kids could only play solitaire on.

That all changed with the arrival of the nine new Dells, which feature state-of-the-art technology.

Nickerson said local computer whiz Garfield Waters has networked the computers so the kids can play games against each other.

He said the youth are lined up waiting for the doors to open at 7 p.m. and, thanks to software financed by the Kivalliq Inuit Association, the computers are becoming more than just glorified video games.

"We had them installed with learning software such as National Geographic, Microsoft Encarta Reference Library and Mavis Beacon Typing, among others.

"These programs give kids the opportunity to educate and explore at their own pace.

"With frequent use, they'll be less intimidated by the technology and may even develop the skills necessary for a career involving computers."