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THE TRIUMPH OF ‘DOT HOPE’ -  LA Times

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High school student Jason Fernandes of Bombay, India, came second in the individual category for his site about learning- disabled kids as a way of helping others better understand dyslexia, attention deficit disorder and other learning disabilities. Jason created the site after he was diagnosed with learning disabilities despite a very high IQ.

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THE TRIUMPH OF ‘DOT HOPE’ -  LA Times

  1. 1. UPSIDE TODAY: The triumph of ‘dot hope‘ . .«: "2' . ... The triumph of ‘dot hope‘ by Larry Magid May 03, 2000 Most of the time my columns here on Upside'I‘oday focus on the world of dotcoms. But today, l want to talk about something that could best be called "dot hope. " I think it's great that people are making money on the lntemet, but there is more to the Net than profit. There is the potential to change the world and enrich the lives of people who might otherwise fall through the cracks. I'm writing this column from Barbados, West Indies, where I'm attending the Childnet International awards program, sponsored by Cable and Wireless (_C_WP; ) and organized by Qmldn , a Britain-based nonprofit group. The awards, which are now in their third year, recognize Web projects created for children. Unlike the dotcoms that I typically write about, these programs are not designed to make anyone rich, but they can and do enrich the lives of others. Full disclosure: I’m at the ceremony because I'm a judge in the competition. My travel expenses have been paid by the organization, but I am not compensated for my time. From all walks of life Participants at the Barbados meeting came from every continent and, unlike most Internet gatherings I attend, not all participants were financially comfortable. Two attendees, Noel Murillo, l5, and Junior Daniel Garay Cruz, l6, are former street children who now live in a group home in Honduras operated by Casa Alianza, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rehabilitating and defending street children in Latin America. Over breakfast, Noel told me that he left home at the age of 7 to escape "psychological and physical abuse" by a parent. He lived on the streets for several years where he used a variety of drugs including marijuana, alcohol and "shoe glue. " He was eventually rescued by Casa Alianza and is now in school where, among other things, he is learning to use computers and the Intemet. The first thing he and Junior did when they arrived at the hotel was check their email. There are still millions of street kids in Latin America who don't have access to decent food, health care or protection against crime and police harassment, let alone the Internet. But, at least for these two young men, the Net represents opportunity and hope as well as the chance to reach out to other young people around the world. To educate the world http: //www. upside. corn/ texis/ mvm/ print-it? id=390f14ae0&t= rage 1 U1.’ 4/18/Ol
  2. 2. UPSIDE TODAY: The triumph of'dot hope‘ Junior, who left home when he was ll because of severe mental and physical abuse, has become an avid Internet user. "When I arrived at Casa Alianza I saw computers but I thought they were television sets. Then I saw a secretary typing on one and asked her what she was doing. " The secretary met him up with a computer-savvy staff member who got Junior started on what could very well turn out to be a career in information technology. .luni'or hopes to soon set up his own website to help educate the world about the plight of Latin American street children. Joan Fleitas, a nurse from Connecticut, was the first-place winner in the individual category for her website, Bantgaides and Blackl: io@. The site is aimed at families of kids with chronic illnesses and other serious medical problems and gives children and teens an opportunity to tell their own stories. The site, according to Fleitas, doesn't try to deal with medical problems as much as stigmas and other human issues associated with illnesses. Epilepsy Queensland was the first-place winner in the nonprofit category. The site, which is aimed at families of children with epilepsy, is a wonderful example of how the lntemet can be used to help overcome what could otherwise be an isolating condition. Rather than fill its pages with dry medical facts and figures, the organization's "Little P(_)s§ Q_ltil1" is filled with games and stories hosted by an imaginary possum that is coping with epilepsy. l ligh school student Jason Fernarides of Bombay, India, came in second in the individual ategory for his site about learning-disabled kids as a way of helping others better nderstand dyslexia, attention deficit disorder and other learning disabilities. Jason created * he site after he was diagnosed with learning disabilities despite a very high IQ. rowing up in a country where many educators had no clue about dyslexia, Jason was i idiculed by teachers and fellow students. His mom told me how he had to do his choolwork while kneeling. His teacher told him, ''If you can't write at your desk, maybe i ou can write on the floor. " Now, Jason is writing on the Web, with an award-winning site D ‘ hat is reaching people around the world. Real—world applications The first place winner in the Schools’ Category is Sutton Park School from Ireland for their " I: /ti_s. s.i9.r1_. .lT’_<). §_s_i!1l_<: . " Aimed at children in Ireland and around the world, the site, which is based on the TV show and movie "Mission Impossible, " challenges children to save Agent EN. Vironment from the evils of pollution. The site is an example of how schools can develop websites that help children to apply what they're learning in school to the real world. Next year’s award ceremony will be held in Washington, D. C., and the organization is now seeking applications. There is no charge to apply for an award and organizations, individuals and schools can nominate themselves starting at the end of May. http: //www. upside. com/ texi s/ mvm/ print-it? id=3 90fl 4ae0&t= Page 2 of 3 4/18/01
  3. 3. UPSIDE TODAY: The triumph of ‘dot hope‘ Page 3 of 3 hildnet is only one of several organizations that reward nonprofit organizations, schools . nd individuals engaged in using the net for social good, Other programs include l’liinkquest and AT&T's (I) Feel free to Contact Us: Maia&£l£ieAs1.3£«1l£$. lidliflriii. . . . For UPSIDE Magazine subscriptions: Q_ggg9jtgn_-n. §_a_o; k.I§uos. §_imr_»gg_o_f_gggE. . SuDs_pflD_q to UPSIDE Ma, gaZ[tjqjt0,qa, y1,Copyright ©1997-1999 Upside Media Inc. All rights reserved.

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