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Utica Safe Schools Opens “Underground Caf’e” Teen Center Computer Lab with Laptops Donated by UnitedHealthcare

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UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of New York donated 12 computers to Utica Safe Schools to establish a computer lab at its “Underground Caf’e” teen center at 500 Plant Street, Utica. The lab celebrated a grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday, Nov. 3.

Shane Kimball, Dimonique Hunt and other teens try out laptop computers in the newly opened computer

Shane Kimball, Dimonique Hunt and other teens try out laptop computers in the newly opened computer lab at Utica Safe Schools’ “Underground Cafe” teen center. UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of New York donated 12 computers to establish the computer lab as part of its national Community Computer effort. UnitedHealthcare has helped establish eight community computer labs this year in New York State with deliveries of more than 24 refurbished computers (Photo: Michael Okoniewski).

The donation will help establish a computer lab offering high-speed Internet access to students participating in “Teen Zone” program, which helps transform the experiences and perceptions of teens in Utica by creating venues for leadership, civic engagement and create expression. The computers will enable the students to do their school work and give them online access to health information, area teen-safe programs and other community resources.

“Computers are an integral part of our 21st century economy, so it’s essential that our children learn how best to integrate the technology into their learning. The Internet, when used responsibly, can unlock children’s curiosity and teach them more about their world than they could ever learn in a single textbook,” said New York State Sen. Joseph Griffo. “I thank UnitedHealthcare for recognizing the importance of connecting students to computers and bringing opportunity to those who previously lacked access to this evolving technology.”

“With these donations, Utica Safe Schools is able to expand its Underground Caf’e to provide young people access to computers and the Internet, which they may not have had elsewhere,” said Anne Lansing, executive director of Safe Schools Healthy Students Partnership, Inc.

In 2014, UnitedHealthcare helped establish computer labs at eight community locations statewide including Boys & Girls Club of Massena, Jefferson County Children’s Home SoZo Teen Center, EmPowering Port Jervis and Wilson Commencement Park in Rochester. Since beginning the Community Computers program in 2012, UnitedHealthcare has donated 74 computers to local community organizations in New York.

“The Community Computers program was designed to increase computer and Internet access in neighborhoods where access to these tools may be limited,” said Pat Celli, president of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of New York. “We are grateful for the opportunity to support Utica Safe Schools and providing teens access to technology in ways that are healthier for them.”

Community Computers extends the usable life of computers by putting them in the hands of people who otherwise could not afford them. UnitedHealthcare has donated more than 2,000 computers in 15 states since the program began in 2012. For more information about Community Computers and to apply for computers, visit http://www.uhccommunityplan.com/community-partners/ny.html.

About Utica Safe Schools
The mission of Utica Safe Schools is to keep kids in school by reducing barriers to learning while supporting their social and emotional well-being. The agency works with school districts throughout Oneida County to identify and support students who may be at risk of not graduating high school, being placed outside the home and/or school due to behavioral or other issues, dropping out of school or having a difficult time in school due to family issues or problems at school as a result of being bullied or afraid. We use research and evidence based programs that show strong positive outcomes in grades, attendance and behavior. Visit our website for further information at www.usshealthystudents.org.

About UnitedHealthcare
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, military service members, retirees and their families, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 800,000 physicians and care professionals, and 6,000 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. Globally, UnitedHealthcare serves 45 million people in health benefits and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) , a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at www.uhc.com or follow @myUHC on Twitter.

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