Games, friends and learning in The Lab

May 16, 2022 BY

Immersive: Ballarat Tech School has a library of technologies The Lab members can use, including headsets for virtual reality gaming. Photo: FILE

EVERY Wednesday evening, the Ballarat Tech School transforms into a space for board and video game play, where digital skills are shared.

The Lab is a weekly two-hour tech social club for young people on the autism spectrum, and national coordinator of The Lab Network Alan Morgans said the program’s goal is to decrease social isolation, and nurture friendships amongst neurodiverse youth.

“The Lab aims to leverage participants’ interests in games and technology, to provide a vehicle for social engagement,” he said.

“These kids are incredibly smart and switched on technically, so getting them together in a space where they can share their passions and common experience provides a really positive, supportive platform for developing social and friendship skills.”

Club members are supported by a consistent group of mentors each week who work with them to grow their social connections, and tech skillset.

Mr Morgans said The Lab is currently seeking two new committed mentors for the booming program at Ballarat Tech School, who can offer a strong knowledge of gaming and contemporary technologies, are savvy with digital media, and are keen for lots of fun.

“The mentors provide their personal experience, knowledge of games and technical expertise to foster the engagement that happens between the young people in sessions.

“For some of the older kids, that might involve skill development around coding, artwork, video editing, or games creation projects, and the mentors are there to facilitate that,” he said.

“The kids develop a friendship and trust with the mentors over time.”

The Lab Network is a not-for-profit group hosted by 35 groups and venues across Australia. Visit thelab.org.au.