Code Club strives to support girls in STEM

By CLOEY CALLAHAN
Posted 1/13/21

The Newburgh Girls Code Club (NGCC), made possible by the Newburgh Free Library, took a short hiatus during the pandemic, but are now making a revival for the spring session.

The club is “a …

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Code Club strives to support girls in STEM

Posted

The Newburgh Girls Code Club (NGCC), made possible by the Newburgh Free Library, took a short hiatus during the pandemic, but are now making a revival for the spring session.

The club is “a sisterhood of supportive peers and role models who use computer science to change the world.” It gives Newburgh girls, and nonbinary folk, an opportunity to learn how to code and be supported by a community of like-minded individuals.

NGCC launched in the fall of 2019 as an after-school program and continued into the spring of 2020. When Covid-19 first hit, they moved to an online platform to continue engaging girls who are interested in coding. However, they took a break this past fall to address technology issues and worked to revamp the club to be inclusive for those who might not have access to a computer.

“We took the Girls Who Code curriculum and expanded it to meet the needs of the Newburgh community,” said managing consultant and Newburgh resident Anusha Mehar. “We help build camaraderie amongst the youth.”

While they use the terminology of sisterhood, Mehar explained that it is open to “nonbinary youth, trans youth and women-identifying youth, or young people who prefer to learn in a female-centered environment.”

Through NGCC, Mehar hopes to reinvision new futures for those right here in the community as well as “society at large.” Their main goal is to give the youth skills that will help them not only professionally but personally as well, especially during a time where the pandemic has pushed mostly everything to a digital platform.

They partnered with Open Hub, a Hudson Valley based tech company, to make NGCC possible.

“We want to show how tech can be used to remedy solutions for real world problems and issues they care about in their community,” said Mehar.

Students who are a part of NGCC complete a community activist project, of their choosing, by the end of the session.

“We foster an environment that not only engages myself from a digital wellness perspective and Open Hub from a very tech oriented perspective, but also connects the students with mentors that work in the field who they can acknowledge, look up to and have as a resource for support and advice.”

Mehar said that students who participate in the program will quickly learn that process is valued more than perfection is. NGCC offers a space for “failure to be explored in a healthy setting.”

“Girls live in a society that oftentimes tells a different narrative around perfection and success and what it means to manage different pressures – it can be really hard for them,” said Mehar. “We see it as a mechanism to build their self esteem, confidence and applied practice for what it means to safely fail forward.”

NGCC is currently accepting applications for this spring. Anyone who is welcome to apply who is woman-identifying between the ages of 10 and 18. You do not need to be cenrolled at the Newburgh Enlarged City School District. A certain number of students who do not have access to technology will also be accepted. A total of 20 students will be accepted to NGCC this spring. They also are looking for mentors, which is a paid position, and are specifically hoping to see BIPOC women and leaders in tech.

“We want to make sure these young people are trained in not just the skills they need, but that they are seeing themselves represented in the leadership beyond what they may have seen before in many cases,” said Mehar. “We’re training the next generation of leaders who are going to, I think in many ways, lead us through this next phase of digital learning and living that we’re moving into.”

NGCC is holding an information session on Thursday, January 14 and Thursday, January 21 from 6 to 7 p.m on Zoom. The spring session will be held from February 22 to June 3 in split groups on Mondays or Thursdays from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Beginners are welcome and the application can be accessed online.

For more information, contact Mehar at 917-415-0498, send an email to nflgirlscodeclub@gmail.com or visit bit.ly/newburghlibraryngcc.

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