I know what my role is in the ‘struggle’ for minority equality and greater understanding. I’m a writer, a describer, an arguer. That’s what’s in me to do. Although I am more or less content with my ‘job’, I can’t help but feel a deep and quasi-envious admiration for those people who actually go out there and do stuff.
The 13 girls and their families are mostly recent immigrants, from Nigeria, Pakistan, Jamaica, Somalia and Iraq. Two girls have only been here a month; they’ve just arrived from Iraqi refugee camps in Syria. Their friends help to translate, and they soaked it all in.
The workshop is lead by a young woman, Heather Payne of a non-profit called Girls Learning Code. I met Heather through the Mozilla Foundation, who has hired her and others like her to build a new generation of webmakers around the planet. This summer, they’re encouraging people around the world to run Kitchen Code Parties of their own. We thought it would be great to do so at the HIGHRISE highrise too, where we’ve worked with adults for almost 3 years now with such participatory photography an storytelling projects such as One Millionth Tower.
We also knew we needed to work with the youth at this building when our Digital Citizenship Survey showed us last year that a whopping 50% of the population at this highrise is under 20 years of age. That’s a lot of kids with not much to do all summer long.
“We know that if we advertise the workshop for both boys and girls,” Heather explains to me, “Only boys will show up. So making the group open only for girls ensures girls make it to the keyboard.”
“I was so excited to hear about this workshop,” says one girl, “Because all we do all summer long is stay in our apartment and clean.” The needs of the kids are high, and so few services exist in highrise neighbourhoods such as this.
Heather Payne is a friend from high school who I (in my self-centred undergraduate haze) lost track of for a few years. When she popped back onto my radar, she had decided that it simply wasn’t enough to merely comment on the obstacles facing young women when it came to career path selection. She decided to do something about it, and in the past handful of months her brainchild Ladies Learning Code has taken off in a big way.
Read the rest of the profile about what she’s doing, and if you are so moved, follow her on Twitter. And then tell her I said nice things about her. And then… I dunno, go do something else.
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