In Rockwood, children are not getting the guidance and tools they need.
In the Rockwood neighborhood in Southeast Portland, families are wrestling with poverty, gang activity, schools with limited resources, and one of the highest violent crime rates in our community. Kids and teens have limited access to high quality books, beyond the library, and reading role models are scarce.
The Rockwood Library is a haven in this turbulent community. Children are safe and encouraged to ask questions and explore. More than 21,000 children and teens live within two miles of the library’s front door and they arrive by the hundreds every week. In summer, many children stay all day.
A Makerspace for Rockwood kids.
In April 2016, the library launched an unprecedented resource in Rockwood – a safe, hands-on learning environment. The makerspace is a creative, technology-rich space where young people can work with skilled volunteer mentors to invent and explore through projects they design themselves. Within just weeks of opening, teens were working in the space—using 3D printers, video production tools, and cutting edge tools for invention, such as conductive clay and e-textiles. Teens are creating robots, designing video games and coding apps, experimenting with animation, recording and mixing music and making short films. They’re exercising analytical skills, reading and math skills, spatial skills, honing their teamwork and the ability to collaborate and persevere.
The library’s mentoring program brings this space alive for teens, giving them access to adults who offer guidance and make invention possible. And the STEM-themed book selections, curated by librarians for the kids in this neighborhood, have the potential to change the future for these young people.