What does representation mean to you? For a group of girls at CYC-Rebecca K. Crown Youth Center, it meant finding a creative solution to ensure that the video game they were working on had a character that looked like them.
This summer at CYC-Rebecca K. Crown Youth Center, a group of 9-12 year old girls designed a video game that prevents cyberbullying.
The game focused on how to identify what a cyber-bully is, how to speak up, and how to make appropriate choices. To play the game, the youth designed a character on the Bloxels platform: “Friendship Girl.”
While they originally used the provided kit to create the character, they were dismayed because they couldn’t get their character to look like them: African-American.
After creating the initial character for their game, the group investigated how they could give their character brown skin, something that Devin Swift-Bailey, the Maker Lab specialist at the Center, did not believe was possible.
To his surprise, the group tinkered with the program and figured out how to create their dream character in the app itself.
“The big takeaway was that they were able to create a character that represents them,” Devin said. “They took away an interest in coding, a newfound way to be creative.”
In addition to gaining technology skills through this program, the girls displayed determination, creativity, and empathy as they worked together to find a solution to the issue at hand. India, one of the girls in the group, said she enjoyed the collaboration that went into the project.
“What I enjoyed the most about the program is that I liked that we have to work together,” said the 10-year-old.
Devin said this program was a great opportunity for the children to explore other STEM fields.
“I think the importance of this program is that a lot of kids think that the only STEM-related careers are being engineers, etc.,” he said. “Animation, gaming, and graphic design are STEM careers. It exposes them to other types of careers, and develops passions and interests.”
While this program just got the girls’ feet in the door of coding, we’re excited to see what they will do in the continuation of this program this year!