This post is sponsored by Comcast
Throughout the COVID-19 lockdown and still today, technology has helped us transition to more virtual environments and stay connected to school, work, and each other. We rely on our laptops and the internet to help us find new jobs as we re-evaluate life’s priorities, stay healthy through telehealth visits, and engage our kids in meaningful learning outside the classroom. Despite the availability of devices, the digital divide still exists, and many families are without essential technology.
As a teacher and parent, I know how important access to devices have been throughout the pandemic. The shift to virtual learning in March 2020 caused many school systems to scramble and figure out how to get technology into student’s hands. While my two teens had their own laptops to use for school, I know many of my students didn’t. The access to shared Chromebooks and desktops, along with school WiFi, evaporated overnight and exposed the great disparity caused by the digital divide.
Comcast has been working to bridge the digital divide for over a decade. Its Internet Essentials program provides affordable, high-speed internet at home, subsidized computers, and digital skills training for eligible low-income Americans. Recently, Comcast donated 200 laptops to Easterseals programs in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia to help community members stay connected to the services they need.
Even though the area Easterseals headquarters is in my community, I wasn’t aware of its mission or who its programs serve until I spoke with Jonathan Horowitch, President and CEO of Easterseals DC MD VA.
Jonathan told me the mission of Easterseals is to enrich lives and expand opportunities for all children and adults in our communities, including people with disabilities and military backgrounds. They expand access to healthcare, education, and employment by providing comprehensive services to thousands of children and adults in our neighborhoods, no matter their disability, military status, income, race, or age. Easterseals works to reduce poverty and homelessness, improve healthcare and employment, and empower people of all ages and abilities to be full and equal participants in their communities.
Vans that used to bring people into the center were deployed to deliver groceries, PPE, diapers, and wipes to families. In-person behavioral, respite, and mental health appointments for seniors and military families and veterans became virtual thanks to telehealth visits. Fortunately, work services, such as career coaching, were already virtual but there was an additional need for devices to assist those who were out of work or without access to a laptop or computer due of the pandemic.
As schools across the country pivoted to virtual models, Easterseals Child Development Centers did, too. Care and educational settings for those with and without disabilities continued thanks to partnerships with Head Start and Comcast, which distributed iPads and laptops to families so kids could keep learning.
When I asked Jonathan about what impact Comcast’s donation of 200 new laptops will have on Easterseals, he noted that “…the donation will help ensure people who might not have access to laptops during the pandemic have ways to connect remotely.”
“This incredible donation will bring greater access to our clients in so many ways,” added Jonathan. “These laptops will enable them to more easily access telehealth, engage in remote job interviews, explore learning opportunities for their children, and so much more.”
Video provided by Easterseals
Easterseals DC MD VA is an incredible community resource with programs that support children, seniors, veterans and military families through education, employment support, mental health care, and more. For more information about the many Easterseals programs, visit its website.
This post is sponsored by Comcast but all opinions are my own.