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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 June, 2003, 11:30 GMT 12:30 UK
Computer club aids youngsters
Top rapper Eminem, AP
A club is helping youngsters emulate Eminem
A computer clubhouse is helping bridge the digital divide in Dublin.

The club gives teenagers an opportunity to become familiar with technologies and techniques they would otherwise have no chance of using.

By letting youngsters get access to hi-tech, the club hopes to get them interested in pursuing a career in the computer or media industries.

Club members make their own music, movies and websites using hardware and software supplied by the hi-tech firms sponsoring the initiative.

Music makers

Typically the clubs are sited in areas that lack access to technology and computers that many children and schools take for granted.

One of the newest clubs has been set up in the Blanchardstown suburb of Dublin. The BBC's Go Digital radio show visited it recently to see how it was progressing.

"We are offering young people to chance to become fluent at technology through their creative imagination," said Gavin Byrne, co-ordinator of the Blanchardstown clubhouse.

"Young people know about this technology, they see it on MTV, they see it in the movies but it's someone else's work," he said, "in the clubhouse this work will become their own so that when they are sitting watching a video of Eminem they know how he put together that piece of music."

Mr Byrne said the club stressed active involvement and training to let the teenagers become intimately familiar with many different sorts of technology including multimedia, electronic music, game design and webpage creation.

The club has a roster of volunteers who are experts in particular technology fields that guide the work of the young people that go along to the club.

Mr Byrne said giving people the confidence to use technology can have many other benefits.

"If a young person hasn't got basic self confidence or self esteem they won't write that letter, they won't do their CV, they won't sit that exam," he said.

Teenager Richard O'Connor, a club regular, said it was a huge help to many people in the Blanchardstown area.

"I think it's a great opportunity for kids, it keeps them busy, it keeps them off the streets, getting into bad stuff especially around here," he said, "it is a very bad area."

The club has helped Mr O'Connor, aka O Dogg, create his own music and now he is thinking about pursuing a career as a record producer or DJ.

The computer clubs started in the US in 1993 as part of the Boston Museum of Science's community work and the idea is now spreading to other countries.

Now there are more than 75 computer clubhouses around the world.

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