YWCA sponsors annual Crash Day
By LAURIE ESPOSITO HARLEY
A small group of teenage girls gather around laptops as mentor Mike Perry, network engineer with Micro Doctor, leans over to answer a question and offer guidance.
A bowl of veggies sits in the center of the table as a snack, and music plays softly as the girls talk and laugh. And learn how to make a difference in the Youngstown community by writing code.
Saturday’s participants at Technovation Challenge Crash Day were few in number, but it’s not too late to join the movement in which girls ages 12 to 18 worldwide apply technology skills they’ve learned to solve real-world problems.
Crash Day took place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the YWCA on West Rayen Avenue. The free event began with the movie CodeGirl, then the girls received a crash course in coding in preparation for Technovation Challenge 2017.
“The Technovation Challenge is a great opportunity for creating entrepreneurial skills and helping girls get into a male-dominated field,” said Jennie Andrews, YWCA youth program manager.
“Last year was the pilot year for a local challenge group. The activity is a joint effort between the Oak Hill Collaborative and the YWCA,” Andrews explained.
But Crash Day, an informative gathering to help girls understand exactly what is involved, is new this year, she added.
Mentors such as Perry, who has volunteering ties with both the YW and the collaborative, will encourage the girls as they work on MIT App Inventor II, a free, cloud-based application that converts coding into real apps that can be tested on Android devices.
The Challenge requires teams of girls to identify a community need and write the coding for an app that not only meets the need but also earns a profit. To submit their app, they must record a pitch that includes a business plan and budget. The global winner is awarded $10,000 to launch a prototype of the winning submission.
Although the mentors are available, “all ideas and work must be completed by the girls themselves, including solving any roadblocks they may run into, “ Andrews noted.
Crash Day participants Patrice Ellis, 17, from Summit Academy Secondary; Talea Fulton, 15, from Campbell Memorial High; and Brianna Hall, 12, from Boardman Glenwood Junior High said they’ve personally seen or faced bullying, violence and animal abuse.
“There’s too much violence, and too often, innocent people are involved,” says Ellis.
With the help of the Oak Hill Collaborative and the YWCA, these girls plan to make a difference.
The Technovation Challenge begins in January and will involve a commitment of at least 14 face-to-face meetings at the Oak Hill Collaborative, as well as additional gatherings via Google Hangout. The deadline for submitting the original app is April 2017.
For more information or to join the challenge, contact Andrews at 330-746-6361, ext. 125.