By Kathy Chouteau and Mike Kinney
Got an emerging sports superstar in your household? Or how about a budding Top Chef? Your kids can explore an array of offerings like sports teams, a Culinary Club, music production and a wide range of technology programs when the Richmond Police Activities League (RPAL) hosts its “Open House and Back to School Bash” this Saturday, Aug. 28.
Set for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., RPAL’s event will offer a guided tour to include its new Technology Center and Makerspace/podcast room, as well as an intro to its latest programs and services for youth ages 8 to 18 from Richmond and nearby areas.
As part of the fun that day, attendees will receive a free lunch, treats and a chance to win prizes, including a bike. According to RPAL, some participants will also be able to participate in a focus group and will receive a gift card for their contributions.
A sampling of RPAL activities kids can learn about Saturday include music, STEM, Lego Robotics, outdoor education, financial literacy, scouting, career exploration, mentorship, police explorers and much more, per the organization.
RPAL will encourage membership sign-ups at the event; those who register their kids will have first choice at 2021-22 programs and activities and will receive a backpack with school supplies.
Today, RPAL Mentor and Diversion Coordinator Brandon Evans gave the Standard a tour of the new technology wing at its center at 2200 Macdonald Ave.
The tech wing has an Image Maker Lab that consists of a 3-D printer, Laser engraver and a tee shirt and hat press. “It gives our youth an opportunity to work hands on with technology,” Evans said.
Another part of the tech wing is the Lego Robotic Lab, which provides youth the ability to design Lego Robots using science and technology.
A full-service podcast studio enables youth to learn how to make and create professional podcasts. A new RPAL YouTube station will be launched, instructing youth on video editing and production.
RPAL offers both a music program and access to a digital recording studio. The music program teaches young people the basics of playing a musical instrument and beyond. The digital recording studio offers training in the basics in session work, producing, mixing and mastering, Evans said.
“This gives many of our black and brown young people access to science and technology,” he said. “People of color are under-represented in technology and science. This technology wing of RPAL gives our youth the opportunity to learn and gain knowledge.”