School City of Mishawaka and Mishawaka Parks and Recreation announced Wednesday that they would use a government grant to target internet deserts in their community. That means free WiFi in city parks and for some families.
Mishawaka Parks Superintendent Phil Blasko says that when his department asked schoolchildren what they wanted to see in their parks, the answer was unanimous: WiFi.
“I was like, ‘Oh, they just want to play video games,” and I remember a little kid raising his hand, and he says ‘Well, I want WiFi in the park because I don’t have internet at home, and if I need to do homework, I can’t do that,” Blasko said.
A $191,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education has made connecting Mishawaka parks possible. It will also allow the city to provide in-home internet access for families in need.
“Families can get started with that by reaching out to their school principal, and they’ll get a promotional code which will allow us to sponsor that family’s internet for one year,” said Mishawaka Mayor Dave Wood.
School City of Mishawaka Assistant Superintendent, Sarah Hickle, said that while the grant is meant to immediately reduce the challenges of distance learning in a pandemic, the school system hopes the park WiFi will provide long-term access for families.
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