Local Foster Youth Build Robots, Learn Invaluable Life Skills

For Immediate Release:
March 28, 2013

Contact:
Nicole Stookey
Northwest Region Communications Director
(850) 509-2675

Local Foster Youth Build Robots, Learn Invaluable Life Skills
CenturyLink sponsors Spring Break into Robotics camp to inspire interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields

FT. WALTON BEACH— Eight children in foster care or transitioning out of care from Okaloosa and Escambia Counties used their creative thinking and collaborative problem-solving skills from Tuesday through Thursday to design and build a competition-worthy robot. Global telecommunications company CenturyLink teamed up with the Department of Children and Families, Florida’s Foundation and Workforce Development Board of Okaloosa and Walton Counties to sponsor a three-day Spring Break into Robotics camp at the University of West Florida Ft. Walton Beach Campus. The camp was designed to give the youth ages, 13-18, an immersive college experience aimed at cultivating their interests in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

“Our children deserve every opportunity to have camp experiences just like any other youth,” DCF Northwest Regional Director Vicki Abrams said. “CenturyLink’s commitment to sponsoring high-tech programs like Spring Break into Robotics at UWF Explore Summer Camps is a reflection of corporate giving to strengthen individuals and communities for a better tomorrow.”

CenturyLink supports local communities through philanthropic efforts focused on K-12 education and youth programs, as well as technology-focused initiatives. The robotics camp is the third CenturyLink-sponsored DCF Camp for Champions for Florida’s abused and neglected children with a focus on STEM fields.

"At CenturyLink, we appreciate the ability to address a growing demand for highly-skilled and tech-savvy workers while inspiring children in our own community,” said CenturyLink’s Market Development Manager Carmen Butler. “We are pleased to partner with the Department of Children and Families and Florida’s Foundation to give these children a fun, educational and motivating experience."

The camp was designed to provide a spring break program that creatively helps teenagers improve science and engineering, team-building and programming skills through the development of robots. Campers learned to work collaboratively toward a common goal – building and programming VEX Clawbots – and even explored various engineering careers. At the end of the three days, the new robots went head-to-head in a bot “Can Cleanup Challenge” competition.

"Spring Break into Robotics is creating the engineers of the future using a fun and educational curriculum led by UWF staff and our best physics and mathematics students,” said Michelle McMillian, Youth Program Manager at the University of West Florida. “We are happy to have so many fine young people on our campus thanks to the generous support of organizations like CenturyLink, Florida’s Foundation and the Department of Children and Families.”

The CenturyLink-sponsored camp is one of more than a dozen statewide Camps for Champions (www.campsforchampions.com) offering mentoring, team-building and leadership opportunities for more than 1,000 children in foster care.

CenturyLink, a “Partner for Promise,” is one of more than 2,000 Florida businesses recognized by DCF for donating their time, talent and resources to enrich the lives of people in their communities. For more information, please visit www.flpartnersforpromise.com. To learn more about CenturyLink, please visit www.centurylink.com.

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Camper: A Spring Break into Robotics camper gets some tips from a UWF instructor