Shantel Hosein, Raphael Jackson, and Kids – Jackson Academy Coding and Animation Club
Jackson Academy Coding and Animation Club addresses the issue of tech consumerism. Our primary goal is to create an instructional workshop, which serves as a feeder school for a kid-run production studio. We intend to build a local lending tech library, and from this library build a series of instructional tutorial videos. Unlike many YouTube videos, these videos will be organized in a consistent course from start to end, modeled after the organization of books typically written for adults.
This work will reach low and middle-class income families who have school aged children. These are children who demonstrate talent, creativity, and commitment, however they often cannot afford the price tags of technology camps designed to serve the children of the wealthy. I want to show children and parents alike that a slight adjustment in the way they approach their investments can turn their children into producers rather than consumers. Their children are creative and useful and can create their own games and animations and enjoy the process of learning to do.
We are motivated by preparing young people for long term learning and achievement. Our work addresses the issues of empowerment through self-instruction and peer instruction. As a person who has spent over a decade preparing children for colleges and university success, I have come to realize that – despite their otherwise useful role – real societal change rarely emanates from such institutions. In waiting to gain admittance to these institutions children often waste over a decade of their lives not pursuing mastery over courses of studies which they could have begun immediately after, or even alongside, becoming literate. The longer they wait the more their ideas are tamed. Many graduates then set aside their creative ambitions in order to achieve a sense of respectability. This desire, plus the practical need to settle student loan debts, tends to turn our most talented and promising graduates into storm troopers for institutions which lack in social and environmental responsibility.
We empower youth by providing them with mastery over a creative skill. They will be in control of this process both on the educational side as well as the production side. We have experienced teachers who work on a volunteer basis. We hold a weekly after-school instructional club in which students learn computer programming, creative writing, videography and digital design. Our students have self-published 4 books, maintained blogs with a modest following, created tutorials on www.Udemy.com, and have gained a modest audience from the short animations and tutorials which they have published to YouTube.
The primary ways that success is recognized by society are through educational achievement and financial achievement. What is more important than degrees or dollars however, is the confidence which can be demonstrated in our students’ outlook. When observing large studios, universities, and projects, they do with a critical eye. While they admire the time and craft of professional content, they are not in awe to the extent that they believe that this level work is not attainable.
We at the Jackson Academy were looking for affordable technology programs for our own students. We then realized there was a lack of affordable and accessible programs that would meet the needs of our students and other students that are in similar situations. Out of this, our first coding club was born. We sought out participants that were interested in technology but were low income, and would otherwise not have access to the opportunity of developing this much needed skill set. We set out to invite families by spreading the word through flyers, personal invitations, and word of mouth in community-sponsored events.
The seed grant will help us to invest in solidifying the first class of students as well as creating our online tutorial library. The money awarded will be used to increase accommodation for more attendees by purchasing more reusable instructional resources, including books and computer equipment. Some children do not have computers at home in Puerto Rico and we are allowing them access to use the computers at our coding events.