After-school workshops inspire next generation

24 July 2023

An attendee at one of SoapBox Youth Centre's after-school STEM sessions

In 2022, Covent Garden Dragon Hall Trust received funding from the WCIT Charity to deliver digital/STEM and environmental education opportunities for socially excluded young people aged 10 and 11 years old at the SoapBox Youth Centre in Islington – a borough with high levels of deprivation.

The goal of the project was to provide after-school programmes and access to industry professionals, so that the young people could enjoy experiential learning opportunities that they were usually denied access to. They would also be given the chance to build their digital/STEM competencies, and receive nationally-recognised accreditation to celebrate their progress and achievements.

The programmes attracted great interest and ran from September 2022 over three terms. They included:

  • STEM club for girls – 31 attendees
  • CoSpaces 3D creation and coding – 37 attendees
  • iFixit recycling, repairing and reuse – 26 attendees
  • Mixed STEM club – 42 attendees
  • Environmental social action project – 29 attendees
  • Accredited games design course – 18 attendees

Alongside these programmes, nine young people received three months of mentoring and coaching from a STEAM industry professional, and 46 young people attended various ‘Discover STEAM’ sessions where they had their first experience of VR, AR, 3D printing and AI. 14 young people also took part in an eight-week introduction to VR architecture course.

In total, the project reached 50% more young people than the initial target.

Speaking about the grant, Digital Amplifier James Dellow said: “We want to thank WCIT members for their support with this work, as it has had an outsized impact on both what we have done this year and also on our direction of travel. It has been of significant benefit and value to both young people and our organisation.”

“We want to thank WCIT members for their support with this work, as it has had an outsized impact”

WCIT Charity Chair of Trustees, Stefan Fafinski DL, added: “It is vitally important we give young people the opportunity to explore the world of tech, and sadly this is not something that all schools are able to offer in depth. Neither formal education nor the business community can resolve all the issues of digital exclusion, but the work of after-school clubs such as SoapBox is certainly a welcome step towards that: in inspiring the next generation to engage with the digital world, to find out more, and to consider further education and even possible careers in the tech industry. It fits perfectly with the ambition of the WCIT Charity to use technology for good for all.”