UPTOWN — The Boys & Girls Club in Uptown has been selected as the grand prize winner of an NBA charitable effort, winning $100,000 for a technology center and a virtual visit from basketball star Chris Paul.
The Technology Center for Excellence was unveiled in late May at the Pedersen-McCormick Boys & Girls Club, 4835 N. Sheridan Road. The center was made possible by the NBA and State Farm Insurance’s Assist Tracker program, which saw the two entities donate money toward learning initiatives for every on-court assist during the NBA season.
At the ribbon cutting, local teens tried out the technology by meeting virtually with Paul, an 11-time All-Star who played in the NBA championship with the Phoenix Suns this year. The kids asked Paul questions and got advice on how to be successful.
“We’re always trying to provide opportunities to make sure the different communities know how big of an impact you can have on kids lives,” Paul said in a speech to kids and staff at the Boys & Girls Club. “It’s unbelievable that the Assist Tracker had an opportunity to put together this amazing learning center so the kids can understand that they truly are the future.”
The Pedersen-McCormick club applied for funding from the program and got the grand prize of $100,000, the most money awarded this year by the Assist Tracker program.
The funds went toward a complete renovation of the club’s technology lab. The room got new painting and flooring, computers, smart boards, furniture and smart TVs. A “chill zone” was also built to give teens a space to work on their own technology projects, club director George Colone said.
Paul sent the club large wall stickers in his likeness from the company Fathead, and the club received basketball-themed accessories, including a wall clock in the form of a shot clock.
“You can just see the level of excitement when [the kids] walk through the door,” Colone said. “It’ll create a lifelong impression on our club members.”
The technology lab replaces an old one that had outdated equipment. With the state-of-the-art equipment, Boys & Girls Club members are on a more even playing field with their peers.
“We want our kids to come in and feel they can compete with other kids across the city,” Colone said. “Our job is to help them find those hidden talents and encourage them to be successful.”
The virtual drop-in from Paul is the second high-profile athlete to visit the Pedersen-McCormick club in the last year. In September, Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks handed out shoes to members of the Uptown club.
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