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Code Clubs are bridging the digital divide around the world

How volunteers and Code Clubs connect kids by getting creative with code

Alpha Sow
April 19, 2021

Code Club is a network of volunteer-led coding clubs that allow kids from different schools and age groups to meet up and learn to code. To highlight the connections that Code Clubs create beyond the classroom, we spoke with some volunteers to share the possibilities that Code Club offers the kids in their community.

Code Club helps kids to connect with peers

Alicia Heinzle, the Children's Services Librarian at Bibliothèque Champlain Library, told us that she decided to start a coding club to bring something new and exciting to their programming:

“Kids between the ages of 9 - 13 years that are avid readers and supporters of the library fit in the coding age range."

Free workshops allow kids of diverse backgrounds to connect, learn, and share. This helps to reduce the digital gap in a world that is growing dependent on technology.

Code Clubs make learning easier by bringing in interactivity and fun. For example, when coding with Scratch, kids work on projects and share them with other users worldwide. They learn to collaborate by working on other users' projects or by working in groups.

Young coders can create their own Scratch games like this one. CREDIT: KCJ.

Christine Tam, the Digital Technology Assistant at the Hamilton Public Library notices the enthusiasm in their reactions:

“I’m always amazed by the way kids customize and remix their projects. There’s so much creativity and such a joy to see their enthusiasm.”

Kids can create anything they can dream up during Code Club, making it a fun after-school program where they build invaluable skills for the future.

Beenish Khan, a Canadian software engineer who set up the Aniqa Naz Foundation in Pakistan to educate local kids added:

"I've found that Code Clubs aren't just a way to teach programming to kids. In fact, they offer a way to inspire kids, to give them something creative to do with their time. Code Clubs are a wholesome activity."

Opening doors to new opportunities

The value of participating in Code Club isn't limited to coding. Kids learn to communicate their ideas to peers and adults. It solidifies knowledge and builds camaraderie.

Parents recognize the benefits of Code Club. Alicia at Bibliothèque Champlain Library found that they have been optimistic about the coding program.

"They say that [coding] is part of their children's world and can open so many doors in the future[...] It's also their safe space away from everyday life and school to have fun and create!"

Beenish agreed - recalling how one parent was sad when her son's course finished, as the classes inspired him:

"in her words, 'After the class, there's a special light on his face.'”

Without Code Club, she was concerned he would spend long hours alone on his cell phone.

Coding through the pandemic

There have been ongoing discussions on what the future of education could look like. Many communities continue to establish virtual connections, which provide opportunities for kids to interact while staying at home.

"Due to COVID restrictions, we have been running only online Code Clubs.”

Beenish shared. The Hamilton Public Library started its Code Club during the pandemic as a remote way to keep kids learning and engaged. And when we asked Alicia why she founded the Club, she replied:

"Because it can be done so virtually and to bring something new and exciting to our programming."

Coders meet online for a virtual Code Club. Image: KCJ.

Running Code Clubs using video conferencing gives kids the chance to meet their peers. But it also provides them with the opportunity to keep coding and to share their projects. The online Code Club even provides members new learning avenues.

Alicia told us that it has some challenges. Still, she optimistically calls them learning opportunities:

“When a child is stuck, I cannot walk over and see what they have last done[…] but together we find a solution. How boring would it be if we didn't run into problems!"

Clubs have also found it practical to make homemade tutorials and lessons. It helps Beenish to assist students who missed classes due to power outages or internet problems.

"We recorded video lessons in Urdu and Hindi, and uploaded them on YouTube. This allowed students (and even teachers/parents) to access lessons asynchronously, at a time suitable for them."

With the help of friendly volunteers, kids have the opportunity to connect and create through code at any time.

Despite the circumstances, Code Clubs are still allowing children to keep in touch with their peers and wider community, all while learning valuable skills and flexing their creative muscles.

Are you interested in becoming a part of a global community of coders? Starting a Code Club is easy. We provide the projects and ongoing support; all you need is a desire to learn and 1-2 hours a week! You can sign up to run a Code Club here. Parents, click here to enrol your children.