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As a parent, I want to do what's best for my kids and expose them to the best opportunities for their future. With this in mind, I remember taking my son to Kids & Code events on weekends when he was 9 and 10. I wanted him to get a taste of the possibilities learning coding could bring him.  He loves to play video games and I wondered if this pastime might translate into an aptitude, or at least an interest in coding. I chose Ottawa-based Kids & Code because they teach coding in an intuitive way and conveniently, CIRA has hosted these learning events in the past.   

What I noticed at Kids & Code was that kids explored creating games and learned to code without actually realizing they were coding! They were having fun, and coding combined both creativity and logic.

My son Xavier, now 11, agrees, “Kids & Code teaches you how to code and you can also bring your friends and have fun.”

Kids & Code was started by Steve Lavigne, a senior member of the OPIN management team. OPIN helps businesses and organizations build digital solutions created on Drupal's dynamic, open source technology. Members of OPIN's 35-person staff also participate in Kids & Code as board members and skilled volunteer mentors, teaching participants the fundamentals of programming and ensuring they experiment, learn and build confidence.

Kids & Code began as an informal club but is now a not-for-profit organization that offers free monthly club classes for kids aged six to 17. They also offer eight-week after-school classes and weekend workshops for a reasonable fee. Kids need to bring their own laptops and there is much-appreciated coffee for the parents.

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Steve Lavigne's personal passion for this initiative has resulted in Kids & Code's longevity and growth. “I never had the opportunity to learn how to code when I was younger, even though I knew at a young age it's what I wanted to do when I grew up,” says Lavigne. “I want to be able to provide the opportunities I didn't have.  Every kid and teenager should have the opportunity to learn how to code. They should know how to build technology instead of just knowing how to consume it.”

OPIN believes it is essential to prepare the next generation for their digital future including in Smart Cities where people will be connected everywhere, all the time. And let's not forget the future potential career opportunities coding can provide. But for now it's all about engaging kids, harnessing their creativity and having a great time. I've seen this first-hand and highly recommend this program to others who want to engage their kids in coding and digital literacy.

OPIN is a proud sponsor of Canadians Connected 2017: CIRA symposium and annual general meeting (AGM), which is one of the most important internet events of the year featuring an exciting line-up of industry-leading speakers.