Young people with autism in the South Australian town Port Pirie, will be able to build technical and social skills at a new technology hub opening in the New Year.
The Lab Networkand The Benevolent Society are launching The Lab - a weekly club where young people aged 10-18 years who are on the autism spectrum, get help from tech-savvy mentors to share interests and develop skills in areas such as social gaming and game development, programming, video making and digital design.
The Benevolent Society currently operates three Labs in South Australia as part of The Lab Network, located in Melrose Park, Salisbury and Mt Gambier. Director for South Australia at The Benevolent Society, Josie Kitch says that this Port Pirie Lab is an exciting expansion for young people on the spectrum in regional South Australia.
“The Lab Port Pirie is a vital addition to our South Australian Labs to connect young people on the spectrum in a high-demand regional area,” Ms Kitch says.
“They will be linked with Lab mentors to develop high-level technology skills individually and with others who share similar experiences and interests. Our Labs really focus on supporting the participant’s individual goals.”
The Labs aim to help young people, who are often socially isolated from their peers because they are seen as ‘different’, connect with others in a safe and inclusive environment, while sharing and exploring their passion for gaming and coding.
However, it’s not just the participants who benefit from the Labs.
The Lab Network’s National Coordinator Alan Morgans says The Lab Network is a fun and highly rewarding opportunity for mentors to share their tech skills with enthusiastic young people.
“Being a Lab mentor is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We support, train, pay and equip you with the resources to make decisions and programs that support young people on the spectrum,” Mr Morgans says.
“We have a high retention rate amongst our mentors nationwide which is a testament to the positive outcomes of the Labs.”
“We’re thrilled to continue working with the Benevolent Society to organise another Lab for regional South Australia. Across the country we see how valuable the Labs are at supporting young people with autism – and their mentors – to make friends, have fun and develop technical skills while exploring their interests in technology.”