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You have a superpower. Yes, you.

November 27, 2018 By Vanessa Doucet-Roche

You have a superpower. Really. I know because I have one too. A little boy named Talib helped me find mine, and I want to show you yours.

As the Program Manager of Canada Learning Code’s Code Mobile initiative, I get the pleasure of working with young people from coast to coast to deliver coding workshops. I love my job. But I didn’t realize just how powerful this work was until meeting Talib.

I met Talib during a game-making workshop I was leading in an elementary school. He was staring at his laptop screen, arms crossed, brow furrowed. Clearly, something wasn’t working the way he wanted it to. I approached him and asked if he needed some help.

He looked at me, and I could see he was searching for the words to describe the problem he was having.

Talib and his classmates were newcomers to Canada, the majority of whom had recently arrived from Syria. Their English skills were limited and the frustration of not being able to communicate was palpable in the room. Looking at him, it dawned on me just how frustrating so many of Talib’s days must be. In a new place, surrounded by people following an unfamiliar routine and now, faced with yet another instance of something not going to plan.

He turned to his partner, an older student with stronger English skills, and explained in Arabic what was going on. Together, we went through the steps to fix the glitch and when Talib watched the game work the way he had intended, he cheered. Finally, he was in control. The teachers in the room excitedly came over to see what was going on. After the jubilation of Talib demonstrating his new coding prowess, his teacher pulled me aside.

“We’ve never seen him so engaged,” she told me, looking just as delighted as Talib. “Really, this is the best day we’ve had so far”. The majority of her students had just arrived in Canada and were living in hotels as their families waited for more stable housing. Students frequently joined and left her class unexpectedly, and she was struggling to build the connections that enable students to participate fully in the classroom. This was one of the first times she had seen her students really light up.

Watching him go from frustrated to victorious made me realize that my superpower was showing kids how to be creators and not just consumers of technology.

Across language barriers, with kids from so many different backgrounds, our Code Mobiles help young students find confidence and connection through building with code. I get to see this superpower transfer to the learners we work with every day.

Before we left that day, Talib was helping his classmates develop their games, showing them how to troubleshoot problems and clearly loving every second of it.

You’ll hear us talk a lot about how coding education is absolutely necessary for young Canadians to be prepared for the careers of the future. And that’s 100% true, but here’s the thing – it’s more than that. Code has the power to build confidence and community across differences. That’s what Talib and his classmates showed me.

It makes it possible for us to create, to understand and to think about problems in a new way. Being able to introduce the possibility of code to thousands of young learners is my superpower. And it can be yours too.

By making a gift of $30, you can bring a coding lesson to a young person in your community. Your gift will give them the chance to build with code, develop their digital literacy skills and start to see how technology can help them solve problems in new ways.

You’ll make sure that every young person, regardless of geographic or financial barriers, has this opportunity. Your support will keep our Code Mobile program free for learners and make sure we can visit rural, remote and underserved communities nationwide.

I don’t know about you, but I’d call that a superpower.

Will you join us? Make your gift now.

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