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Award-winning robotics club in Montreal is growing and has hopes for a new home

Every Saturday afternoon, dozens of young students gather in a room at the Dollard-des-Ormeaux civic centre for a robotics club meeting.

Students, ages nine to 19, learn different skills, such as computer programming, carpentry and robot building.

It has also helped these kids gain confidence and learn the power of team work.

“Sometimes, before I would come in, I’d be stressed and anxious, but after, learning about different things, especially soldering, it helps my focus, to stay calm and re-centre in different situations,” said Nyla Minott-Williams, who is part of the club.

The robotics club is part of the West Island Black Community Association, also known as WIBCA.

The program has been around for about two years.. but it’s already making a name for itself.

Students are still buzzing from the club’s win at the Canadian Robotics Competition, last year.

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“They were able to gain awards in eight out of eight challenges and the overall trophy for the best performance in the competition, across Quebec,” said Petal Steele, founder of the program.

And that success is helping the program expand.

This year, it hopes to start a senior robotics team and is looking for new members.

“I’m very excited because I’d like our team to grow and expand, and we’re also going to be competing in 2025,” said Jeremy Blackman.

With all these competitions, you could imagine how much preparation goes into it.

For the most part, the club meets at the civic centre once a week, but they’d like to be able to meet more often.

And if they had their own space, they could do just that.

“Right now, we’re working on special projects and we’re falling a little bit behind,” Steele said. “Partially because we can only work on it for like an hour on a Saturday”

Earlier this week, WIBCA announced it’s rebuilding its home in Roxboro, from the ground up, to accomodate its growing membership.

The new building would have a reception hall, a daycare and a robotics STEM lab.

The project is estimated to cost around $3.5 million, and WIBCA says its looking for private donations and public funding to make it happen.

“It’s important for everybody to understand that we all need to dig deep into our pockets in order to find money for WIBCA so that they can build this building, whereby they’ll be able to house this type of activity,” said Dollard-des-Ormeaux Mayor Alex Bottausci.

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