Take the Mic: A South Seattle group helps high schoolers get desks for remote learning | KNKX

Take the Mic: A South Seattle group helps high schoolers get desks for remote learning

Jan 25, 2021

Most students around the Puget Sound region have been learning remotely since last March. But in addition to needing access to the internet and a computer, they’ve also had to figure out how to make a learning space at home.

The South Seattle community group WA-BLOC has been trying to help meet students’ needs. The group has been handing out portable desks to students who are working from home with limited space and a lot of online classes.

During a virtual class, students at Rainier Beach High School in southeast Seattle said it was difficult to use their laptops without something to put them on. That led WA-BLOC to survey the teens about whether they could use some sort of desk or platform to make their hours of screen time more comfortable.

“I think 400 students responded. Out of the 400, about 130 expressed a need for a desk,” said Laura Wright, a co-founder of WA-BLOC, an organization focused on youth leadership and civic engagement. “A lot of students also expressed having physical pain, some back pain, eye strain, etc., from online learning.”

WA-BLOC discovered that small folding desks work best for students in cramped quarters.

“We were able to purchase about 50 collapsible lap desks for students,” she said. Students at Rainier Beach High School signed up for desks, and WA-BLOC began delivering them in November. Wright said there were no income restrictions on who could receive one.

Some teachers have also been creating full-sized desks for those who want them.

Wright said when they deliver the desks, students are really grateful.

“It’s a huge issue that students in the first place don’t have access to quality learning spaces,” she said. “It’s really important to us that we’re able to support the students when we can.”

WA-BLOC said there are still some desks in storage and the group will continue delivering them as long as they’re needed.

Ukweli Bayard is an 18-year-old graduate of Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma. He reported and produced this story with guidance from KNKX staff for our Take the Mic youth storytelling and reporting project.