Last week, members of UPMC’s Technology Development Center(TDC) and Pittsburgh CONNECTS Hilltop Computer Center debuted a new touch-screen computer kiosk at the Thelma Lovette YMCA in the city’s Hill District. The kiosk, built mostly by the Y’s youth last summer, features a variety of user-friendly, health-education programs emphasizing the importance of nutrition and exercise.
The Pittsburgh CONNECTS Hilltop Computer Center received a grant from Google to build the kiosk, which fosters STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) initiatives for youth within the community.
Led by Casey Helfrich, chief architect at the TDC, 24 UPMC employees stepped up to volunteer hundreds of hours of time to develop and install health-centered educational applications for the kiosk. Over the course of a month, software engineers worked alongside pediatric nurses, child educators and others from UPMC to develop or adapt interactive health and wellness programs that could be used on the kiosk.
The final product came to life as campers from UPMC and Thelma Lovette YMCA Health Career Summer Camp huddled around the kiosk to play competitive games, including “Hilltop Memory,” where children sharpened their memory skills to match fitness-related images to garner top scores.
“The technology is really cool. When it comes to touchscreen it’s pretty easy,” said camper Shatia Knight, an avid user of touchscreen mobile devices.
Nicolas Jaramillo, program director of the Pittsburgh CONNECTS Hilltop Computer Center and leader of the organization’s technology initiative, reflected on the progression of the program as he watched several campers interact with the kiosk. “This really was an opportunity to build something out of nothing. It was great to come together to create something that represents the community and creates a pathway for further technological growth,” he said.
Temika Green, program coordinator for the Thelma Lovette YMCA, echoed the significance of the community partnership, reiterating that the technology was created by the community and for the community.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the children to learn from the health and wellness resources that the kiosk has to offer and to be exposed to this technology,” she said.
The kiosk will be available for use in the lobby of the Thelma Lovette YMCA for the duration of the summer.