PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) --A new approach to helping kids in school keeps them connected by providing tablets for those who might not have one at home.
Hundreds of high school freshmen across Paterson are each getting their very own piece of technology equipped with unlimited internet access to take home.
"I've never been in any type of program like this before, and I'm a new addition to this school," one student said. "There's a lot happening, and it's very exciting."
It was a surreal day for students at the Rosa Parks School of Fine and Performing Arts in Paterson, among the 500 in the city who are receiving a free mobile device as part of a program through Sprint.
"Kids faces are lighting that we can actually help them succeed in life, to do their homework, and to do their research," Sprint regional president Karen Paletta said.
And students appreciated the opportunity the tablets could afford them.
"If I don't have time at home, because I don't have internet," Nasir Shiver said. "I can do it outside of school and not have to worry about not doing work anymore."
For many of these students, internet access is a luxury. They don't have it at home, so the struggle to get their work done is real.
"Sometimes I used to give in my homework late because I couldn't ever finish," student Nathalie Espinal. "But now that I have this, it'll help a lot."
For others, they mostly relied on their cell phones.
"Always on their smartphones, using their data," principal Jalyn E. Lyde said. "The tablet allows them to see the picture on a different level."
Research shows that 5 million families in this country with school-aged children don't have the internet, so the hope is that by giving these students access, it will truly close the "homework gap."
"This is a lot more convenient, and it has service so I don't have to worry about waiting for it to load or not loading," student Shaiquira Poulson said. "Sometimes it won't go through. I don't have to worry about that with this device."