“I never imagined that one day my son will be in a graduation gown… Thank you so much Tech Era”… as she shed tears during the final ceremony of DIGITAP – an inclusive digital training program for children and youth with Special Needs. This was a heartfelt and genuine expression of gratitude to the Tech Era team for its initiative to develop relevant digital skills of children and youth with disabilities as a path towards employment and social inclusion.
The first edition of DIGITAP came to a close last Saturday at the British Council when 5 young men with different abilities (cerebral palsy, autism, down syndrome) graduated from their beginners level 1 class in programming, blogging, graphic design, typing, and robotics. Parents, family, and friends of the graduates were in attendance with invited guests like Farida Bedwei (Software Engineer) and Mrs. Vee Nelson (Expert Clinician and Social Worker) who spoke during the Ceremony.
“It is a day to celebrate the achievements of the participants”. Derick Omari, the CEO said in his introductory speech. He added; “we have been overwhelmed by the results of this initiative. We decided to organize this when we realized there was little to no programs in summer, after school or on weekend for children and youth with disability especially in the field of technology.”
Meanwhile, technology cannot be underestimated in its ability to create meaningful opportunities in employment, education and social inclusion for individuals with a disability and bridge many gaps. This was one of the motivations for the team to embark on the journey to provide digital skills for youth with disabilities that can empower them for their future career paths.”
Farida Bedwei, a renowned software engineer and CTO at Logiciel, also one of the Board of Advisors at Tech Era encouraged the participants to take advantage of the opportunity Tech Era has presented to develop themselves and make themselves relevant. She recounted her experience as a youth with disability and how she has risen into her recent position, emphasizing that she seized opportunities and was focused on being the best with what she does.
Farida also admonished parents not to leave their kids alone. She advised them to be interested in their journeys and show up as a sign of support. Farida gifted her new comic book, Karmzah, a tale focused on proving the popular adage ‘disability is not inability’ to all the graduates.
During the event, the facilitators engaged with parents about their wards. They also shared the changes they had observed since the sessions started and their recommendations on the future path for their wards based on their engagements with the participants.
“We had one of the participants with cerebral palsy create his own blog where he has published a number of blog posts. With strengths in telling stories and navigating the computer, we thought the world needed to hear him share his story”- one of the facilitators shared.
Other success stories include programming robots, designing logos and flyers, learning to type sentences among others. These learning tracks were recommended based on assessments that were carried at the beginning of the session in consultation with the parents and the interests of the students.
Some parents requested the continuation of the training and the extension of this important work to other parents and individuals with disabilities. The team at Tech Era shared plans to continue and scale to more regions and their vision to provide digital training to all youth with disabilities on the continent.
Tech Era also expressed gratitude to British Council Ghana for sponsorship, Hannah Awudzi, and the Special Mothers Project for the advice and support, as well as Multi Kids Inclusive Academy and Stepping Stones for the collaboration.