Amidst the trauma and disruption of war, hundreds of displaced Ukrainian teenagers are learning skills that will set them up for future success. In November, Boeing teamed up with nonprofit STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) partner ThinkYoung to launch a Coding School to help Ukrainian children displaced by the war learn the basics of coding.
“I thought coding was boring and difficult, but it turned out to be really easy and fun,” said Danyil, a student from Kharkiv, Ukraine, who participated in one of the coding school sessions.
Danyil was one of 240 students who attended the two-day seminars, hosted at Boeing’s office in Gdańsk, Poland, from November 21 through December 13.
The ThinkYoung Coding School, which is free to all participants, focuses on an informal, hands-on learning environment. Students complete lessons, then apply the skills they learned by creating a website and online game.
“I really enjoyed creating games,” added Afina, a student from the Kyiv region in Ukraine. “I hope I can continue to code.”
The Coding School aimed to support teenagers that have been displaced from Ukraine, but also welcomed students of other nationalities, giving the student participants a unique opportunity to bond over the international language of coding.
“They quickly became friends, exchanging their phone numbers, interacting with each other’s social media and having fun together,” said Anastasiia Mazur, ThinkYoung Coding School project manager. “Our school is committed to creating a fun learning environment, which makes our team connect a lot with the participants, with whom we keep in touch through social media even after the school ends.”
In addition to coding skills, the seminars also taught emotional intelligence, providing students the tools to become more aware of their emotions, manage those feelings and be a positive influence on the emotions of others.
“After the emotional intelligence workshop, some of the kids expressed interest in learning about psychology to better understand the feelings of other people and deal with their emotions during the war,” said Mazur.
Since 2016, Boeing and ThinkYoung have partnered to bring 16 Coding Schools to six countries in Europe and Africa, introducing more than 1,300 students to coding in that time.
“It was an easy decision for us to work with ThinkYoung on this coding school for Ukrainian students,” said Jen Beller, Boeing Global Engagement international community investor. “We wanted to find a way to provide a fun learning experience for these students, who have gone through so much this year, and we wanted them to feel empowered in their new environment. It’s about showing our communities that we care and are here to support them.”
For the Boeing Poland team, hosting the coding school was another opportunity to support their Ukrainian colleagues and neighbors.
“I’ve been honored to get to work alongside our colleagues from Ukraine this year,” said Rafał Stepnowski, managing director of Boeing Poland. “It has been inspiring to see the students laugh, have fun and learn. We hope this experience will help them and their families during this difficult year but also in the future.”
Boeing committed $2 million in emergency assistance funding to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. Boeing employees, with a boost from the Boeing Gift Match Program have contributed more than $1 million in donations to charitable organizations supporting those affected.