Workshops to inspire young people to become digital champions
In October as part of Digitober, Trafford Council hosted the first ever Trafford Digital Festival. The month-long festival involved venues from across the borough hosting a range of events from informative family history sessions and sessions to help residents with getting online, to coding activities and QR trails.
As part of the festival, Trafford Council teamed up with University Academy 92 (UA92) to deliver workshops to help local young people become digital champions. The digital workshops were designed to channel existing knowledge of gaming and the internet into practical digital learning, aiming to inspire young people aged 11 to 16 to consider a career in tech.
The workshops, which were hosted by Aaron Saxton, UA92 Director of Disruptive Learning, and Dan Havercroft, Digital Services and Innovation Manager, supported attendees to learn to code, launch their own websites and learn about 3D printing.
Aaron said: “We encouraged the young people to ‘break stuff’ and ‘geek out’ in this creative and safe space because we wanted them to understand they are today’s modern heroes. They took part in workshops that spoke to their understanding and in their language, so they learned to code through the power of gaming, they launched their own live website on the internet and printed in 3D.”
Holly Townhill, Digital Champion & Volunteer Coordinator for Trafford Council, who organised the workshops said: “The energy in the room was extremely positive and although we massively underestimated everyone’s abilities (some of them learning Python in just five minutes), seeing what the group were capable of was inspiring.
“It made me optimistic about their futures as individuals, but also about how amazing our future talent pool is. We hope this will be the first of many local events to inspire anyone to consider a career in digital and tech.”
“My daughters loved every minute of it. They both said that they would definitely go to another event.”
“Anthony had absolutely the best time… The social side of meeting up physically with like-minded people would do wonders for young people into digital activities (especially after COVID).”
Sara Prowse, UA92 CEO said: “With Manchester being the fastest growing tech hub in Europe there’s an exciting buzz of opportunity and investment into our city. We are seen internationally as a game changer and breeding ground for tech talent and innovation and UA92 is at the very heart of this digital revolution. As a fundamental part of the digital eco system of the region, we are keen to be a catalyst to develop and inspire our future generations through digital workshops, bootcamps and degree programmes.
“Our partnership with Holly and the team at Trafford Council has been brilliant, and this is the first of many collaborations we have planned to bring both of our digital visions to life.”
Success and next steps
The workshops were attended by 17 young people with an average age of 13. One of the positive outcomes of the workshops was that some parents and guardians also stayed for the sessions to gain further insights into what their kids can do. The workshops were deemed really successful by both organisations, with some of the attendees commenting that they already knew they wanted to go to university at UA92.
Due to the success of the first event, Trafford Council and UA92 will be teaming up again to hold another series of Digital Workshops for 11-16 years olds to help them learn and develop new digital skills.
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