Raising the next generation of digital creators

When we were approached by the team at MediaSmarts about getting involved in this year’s Media Literacy Week, we immediately jumped at the chance to participate in this important initiative.

Why? Because we are in a new era.

We are in a new time in which children and youth have unprecedented access to digital media in a multitude of forms. While this means that our youth are consuming record amounts of media on a daily basis, it also means that they have the opportunity -- like no other generation before -- to become media creators themselves.

As Ashley Lewis of Girls Learning Code explains, the internet is the single greatest tool at their disposal. “The internet is the next big platform for our generation” Lewis told TVO Parents at a Girls Learning Code camp in Toronto. “For girls to be able to know how to responsibly create for the internet, it’s really going to help them succeed in the future. Most of the jobs now and in the future are going to involve the internet as a main way of advertising, connecting, and spreading messages”, she explained.

When we started Girls Learning Code back in 2012, we had a vision: to help foster a generation of confident, tech-savvy digital media creators who embrace technology as a tool for changing the world. Our workshops, events, and camps cover everything from HTML and CSS to Python to 3D printing to blog creation and more. Through our program, girls get the tools and the confidence they need to embrace digital media as a platform for self-expression and a way to add their voice to the conversations going on in the media.

We are proud to say that since our first workshop in 2012, we have served over 600 youth in Toronto, and are expanding our programs to new cities across the country. And now, thanks to MediaSmarts and initiatives like Media Literacy Week, we have fostered exciting new relationships with other organizations dedicated to helping girls move from being consumers to creators of digital media in all its forms.

There’s no denying it -- when we give girls access to the technology and the resources that they need to express themselves in the digital arena, very special things happen.

Take the story of Caitlin, for example. When Caitlin was in the 8th grade, she participated in two Girls Learning Code camps. At these camps, Caitlin had the opportunity to learn new skills, but to see tech careers in action and to be mentored by fantastic role models like Girls Learning Code’s very-own Kathryn Barrett. Caitlin’s time at camp lit a special spark that she carried with her into her first year of high school. When faced with the task of choosing where to spend her community volunteer hours, Caitlin chose to return to Girls Learning Code -- but this time, as a mentor. “I wanted my community hours to help me with my future career prospects as well as it serving others”, she explained.

This is but one story of empowerment among hundreds, and we are committed to working with great organizations like MediaSmarts to help raise the next generation of digital creators -- because the voices of our young women and men are too important to be left unheard!

Nicole is the Manager of National Sponsorships and Partnerships and the Ottawa Chapter Lead for Ladies Learning Code. In August 2013, Nicole also launched a Girls Learning Code chapter in Ottawa.

Ladies Learning Code is a Toronto-based not-for-profit organization that runs workshops for women (and men) who want to learn beginner-friendly computer programming and other technical skills in a social and collaborative way. Today we serve thousands of learners in 10 chapters across Canada, a thriving girls' program called Girls Learning Code, Kids Learning Code programming, and a permanent workshop space in Toronto.