CALGARY -- With the return to online classes scheduled for Monday, a charitable organization is doing its part to help students from low-income families in Calgary keep learning.

The Youth Empowerment and Skills (YES) Centre is holding a special event Sunday afternoon where they will be handing out 93 laptops, desktops, Chromebooks and iPads to families of students that need one.

All the devices were donated, refurbished and are in proper working order.

The group says the technology makes all the difference for families who are worried about how to meet the demands of online learning.

"(It) will tremendously bridge the gap for those kids who may not have had the tools to learn due to families affordability and as a result would have continue to fall behind," the YES Centre said in a release.

It also says it hopes to give peace of mind to parents of low-income families.

Christine Blake has a son in Grade 2 who has ADHD and behavioural issues.

"It’s easier for him to do online learning as opposed to doing in class learning,” said Blake.

“He’s hooked up to Raz-Kids, which is a great program through the school for his reading and stuff which is what he usually needs the laptop for.”

William Akech is a father, whose Grade 6 son Lual was born in Canada.

However, Akech says he had a difficult upbringing before immigrating to Canada, and a new Chromebook allows him to finally get an education.

“I am born in a war place, and grew up in a war place and I didn’t attend and go to school back home,” he said. “But here I (am) trying to do that. That’s why I need to use the laptop.”

Gar Gar, chief executive office of YES Centre, says donations are needed as there are still about 30 additional families on a waitlist.

"The hope is basically to ensure that no kids don’t have to suffer (when they) go to online schooling,” said Gar.

“With the stories (that) come between kids choosing who’s should go on the morning class and who should actually skip the morning class so the other one can attend, to actually families who have to use only their cellphones.”

Gar hopes to eventually give all low-income families in the area a chance at creating a sustainable education.

“That’s the saddest part, to turn a family away.”


Students from Grades 7 to 12 in both the Calgary Board of Education and Calgary Catholic School District are scheduled to go online for the next two weeks in an attempt to "bend the curve" of active COVID-19 cases.

The decision is based on four criteria; a chronic substitute teacher shortage, a significant number of students and staff in quarantine or isolation, recent requests from the board for short-term shifts for a number of their schools and substantial COVID-19 cases in the community.

Alberta Health says more than 400 schools throughout the province are under an "outbreak status", meaning there are from five to more than 10 cases of the virus reported at the school.

(With files from Jordan Kanygin)