Twelve-year-old Michaela F. from Boys & Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle in Martinsburg, WV first discovered her love of photography thanks to the Club’s darkroom program. But it wasn’t until she started learning about how technology could help her share her art, through a program and digital platform called MyFuture, that her passion really took flight. She developed a digital exhibit of her photography using the platform’s web development program. Along the way, Michaela had the opportunity to experiment with CSS, java script and HTML coding, some of the core technologies for building Web pages. The opportunity opened Michaela’s eyes to a new digital world in which she could share her hobby, and she developed valuable skills that will last well into her future. This is just one of many stories we are celebrating this week with My.Future Week, a celebration in Clubs across the country.
Kids today are considered “digital natives” – growing up in a world infused with technology. Thanks to smartphones and tablets, many kids know how to swipe and tap a screen before they develop other essential motor skills. Yet even with all of today’s technology, and as important as digital skills are for future careers, many kids and teens from underserved communities lag behind in technical computer skills. The ability to use a touch screen, for example, does not prepare children with the technical prowess they’ll need for future success in grade and high school, and beyond.
There is a digital divide that separates young people today and it has major implications for how a young person is able to succeed in life. Boys & Girls Clubs and Comcast NBCUniversal want to close this gap by offering opportunities and experiences that can change young lives. One of those experiences is our interactive digital platform, named MyFuture, launched by Comcast NBCUniversal in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs in 2014. Comcast NBCUniversal, one of the nation’s largest media and technology companies, was able to provide technology expertise combined with Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s leadership in youth development. Available at Clubs nationwide, My.Future provides access to a variety of online digital programs that encourage youth to develop a range of knowledge, skills, and behaviors that are required for success in any 21st-century career.
My.Future helps to elevate important digital and computer competencies, and it does so in a way that excites and captivates young people. With more than 125 activities, Boys & Girls Club members are able to discover new passions or view their current hobbies through a new, digital lens.
For another Boys & Girls Club member, Nick G. of the Sara Heinz House in Pittsburgh, My.Future was the gateway to photography. The platform gave Nick his first introduction to digital photography, and he was able to experiment with editing techniques using its photo manipulation software. As his digital skills improved, so did his photography. Nick has since auctioned off several of his photos at Boys & Girls Club fundraiser events, and he hopes to pursue a career as a professional photographer.
My.Future has shown Nick how technology and art can come together to create something beautiful. In addition to photography, Nick now experiments with laser wood engraving, which requires sophisticated technical skills.
From advanced photo editing to web development, these two Club members embody the diverse digital skills that My.Future helps foster in our young people.
Whether kids hope to become a teacher, programmer, nurse or photographer, digital skills are essential. With screen time devoted to the development of technical competencies – and a break from the world of endless scrolling – My.Future is helping prepare our kids for successful digital futures.