Girls Rule at Digital Literacy Camp

Joselyn is a recent high school graduate and volunteer at YWCA Toronto’s Girls’ Centre. Joselyn reflects on her experience as a mentor at the 2016 Digital Girls – Digital Literacy Camp.

The Girls’ Centre is such an important part of my life.  When I am there, it feels like home.  I started as a participant over 7 years ago, and in Grade 9 became a mentor and volunteer. At school, it can be hard to talk about the things I am going through or issues that matter.  Not at the Girls’ Centre.  The Girls’ Centre is a place where I can really be myself.  I can try new things and make new friends without feeling judged.

When I found out YWCA Toronto was hosting a Digital Literacy Camp at the Girls’ Centre, I was so excited to volunteer as a mentor.  Technology can be a powerful way to express yourself and connect with other people. I love using technology to be creative and tell my story, but there is always so much to learn.  Thanks to generous funding from the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), I was one of 150 girls and 12 mentors who had the chance to explore technology and new ideas in a safe, judgement-free environment.

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What I loved most about the Digital Literacy Camp was the digital storytelling workshop.  We learned about the power of storytelling through digital media like Youtube, web blogs, and music videos.  We talked about our personal experiences with social injustice like racism and sexism and discussed ways to use technology to challenge stereotypes.  I am excited to continue learning and creating new media now that we have new computers at the Girls’ Centre.

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Through thought-provoking discussions and hands-on workshops, we built new skills, and also new friendships. We did not just learn how to prototype an app, we learned how to collaborate and provide feedback.  We did not just learn how to make a movie, we learned how to be creative in our self-expression.  We filled the room with laughter and positive energy. Joy and empowerment could be felt as we learned together and inspired one another.

Most importantly, we learned that technology can be for girls too. Too often, boys take charge and girls are not heard, and we are left behind, or not encouraged to participate. The Girls’ Centre is a safe space for us to share our experiences, learn from each other, and grow. The Digital Literacy Camp was the first chance many of us have had to explore technology in a safe environment.

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After the workshop, some girls were actually talking about working in the technology field. Many of us thought technology was all about coding, but we learned that so many careers in technology go far beyond that. They include creative design, business, storytelling, digital filmmaking, photography, and more. It was awesome to talk with other girls about what they love about technology and the kinds of jobs they would be interested in.  It definitely opened up a whole new world. Thank you to CIRA’s Community Investment Program for making it possible.

YWCA Toronto Girls’ Centre provides girls and young women with a safe and fun space to develop leadership skills and try new things. Learn more about YWCA Toronto’s Girls’ Programs here