The Gleaner

Upcycling and restoring old computers at HAECC

With Earth Day approaching on April 22, teachers Michael Werenchuck and Kathleen Hackett want to shed light on an environmental initiative taking place at the Huntingdon Adult Education and Community Centre in Huntingdon (HAECC).

A computer program is now available to students and the public, where old laptops and tablets with malfunctioning hardware and or obsolete programming can be upcycled to work like new.

HAECC’s computer recycling program not only accepts donations of old, non-functioning computers, but can also help to revitalize older computers through a new Chrome IOS flex installation service, which is offered free of charge to community members.

Werenchuck provides these services with help from students in the Social Integrations Studies (SIS) program. Students who participate in this program learn skill building and fine motor skills by working with tools, sorting through recycled parts, and learning about the science behind computers.

“This is an ongoing project. We have been recycling these computers since 2017, and now we would like to give back to the community by using our resources to help others,” says Werenchuck, who suggests the recycling of these old computers can help with the rising cost of living by extending the life of old computers. The initiative also helps to prevent the overfill of garbage in landfills.


A student sitting at a desk next to a window works on taking apart an old computer.
A student at HAECC in the computer recycling program removing and sorting through parts to upcycle a computer PHOTO HAECC


Hackett, a teacher at the school who works with Werenchuck on the project, says, “Once you are aware of something, you can stop doing it or do something differently.” She suggests that shedding light on a program like this can help to encourage and guide others to make more environmentally friendly choices and changes.

This program has been offered to students for the last several years to help improve access to education, where students who didn’t have access to a laptop are now able to flourish.

Megan L’Heureux, a community development agent with the New Frontiers School Board who works at HAECC, says, “Michael Werenchuck, the teacher leading the chrome OS flex installation service, is eager to help install this operating system which allows old computers to run fast again.” She encourages community members to consider HAECC’s computer recycling program when dealing with an aging computer.

L’Heureux says anyone with questions about their computer or tablet can also reach out to the school for answers and support. Tablets or laptops (MAC or PC) can be brought to the centre at any time during the day between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.

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