Aboriginal children to get laptops
The Belinda Stronach Foundation is giving up to 5,000 laptops loaded with specialized software to children in aboriginal communities across Canada.
The green-coloured XO laptop computers are the same as those built and distributed by One Laptop Per Child, an organization that estimates it has donated more than two million laptops worldwide.
"I believe strongly in combining the power of technology and education and investing in our young people," said Stronach, a former federal cabinet minister and Magna International executive who has turned her efforts to social activism.
The Canadian version of the laptops, provided by Stronach's foundation along with mining company Vale, the Bank of Montreal and the Ontario government, will be given to children between the ages of six and 12.
Stronach's organization has partnered with schools in aboriginal communities to distribute the laptops.
Along with basic programs, each computer will feature eight customized software programs that focus on various issues facing aboriginal youth.
One program, crafted by Ontario's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, aims to prepare youth to deal with issues like bullying and pressure to use drugs or alcohol. Another program focuses on water safety. And singer Buffy Sainte-Marie has a program that teaches children about aboriginal music and how it works.
The programs are narrated and interactive, built with the hope of advancing children's interest in learning, the foundation said.
The laptops also come with a virtual library, with titles by aboriginal authors. One hope of the program is that it will allow aboriginal children to maintain a connection to their culture while gaining the same technological prowess as children in the rest of Canada.
The computers themselves are the size of a small textbook, feature built-in wireless and are promoted as being extremely durable, functional and energy-efficient.
Stronach's foundation, based in Toronto, hopes to partner with more governments to extend the program in the future.