Getting kids—and their parents—excited about technology through coding
Bringing technology education to the South Dublin County community is part of the mission at South Dublin County Partnership (SDCP). A nonprofit dedicated to tackling poverty and social exclusion, SDCP partners with Microsoft and others to deliver digital literacy programs for all ages, levels of expertise, and interests. Since 2019, SDCP’s Balgaddy Child and Family Centre has extended the digital literacy effort to children and their families with a series of free, fun coding programs.
Building confidence and digital skills through video game design
The Balgaddy Child and Family Centre coding clubs spark kids’ interest in technology through video game design. The two clubs—Coding Club for kids 9-12 and We Can Code, an inclusive club for kids with additional needs—introduce children to ‘arcade coding,’ challenging them to build their own gaming adventures. Each 10-week session kicks off with a trip to Microsoft Dream Space, the company’s innovation and education hub where young people can engage in a fully immersive STEM experience and develop their digital skills. The young coders dream up their own video game idea and then spend eight weeks at the South Dublin Balgaddy Child and Family Centre with a trained instructor learning to code it. On the final week, they return to Dream Space with family and friends to share and play their creations.
The chance to design—not just play—a game lights up kids’ imaginations and gives them creative agency. “He is very enthusiastic,” says one parent. “Wouldn’t miss a week and loves talking about it.” Another describes “the joy of watching my son so happy…that there is a world out there [and] he fits in perfectly.” As they come together to play and create, kids build friendships and a sense of belonging. “My daughter has autism and the coding club was a great chance for her to mix with other kids who enjoy similar interests to her,” comments a coding club parent.
In addition to hosting pilot program participants at the Microsoft Dream Space innovation and education hub at its Dublin campus, Microsoft provides teacher training, technology, and Wi-Fi to support the SDCP coding clubs.
Supporting digital literacy for South Dublin residents
The Balgaddy Child and Family Centre’s coding clubs are part of a larger initiative at South Dublin County Partnership to promote digital literacy among Tallaght and Clondalkin residents, from youth to older adults and from basic internet users to aspiring technology professionals. SDCP’s program serves adults at all levels of expertise and interest. A “DigiHero” connects people with the programs that best meet their needs, from beginner “Intro to Computers” classes to career training through Microsoft Ireland’s StepIn2Tech digital skills training program. The initiative also supports those who have either recently left school or college or are mid-career and interested in developing their digital skills.
With the Balgaddy Centre Coding Clubs and Let’s Get Digital, SDCP is helping to bridge the digital divide and make technology available to everyone in South Dublin County.
Learn more about how Microsoft is working with local nonprofits to empower everyone to participate in Ireland’s digital economy.
Digital Wealth, Maynooth University
ALL AI Academy for Good, Maynooth University
STEMpathy, South Dublin