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The computer kids are coming! Innovative Irish computer coding club comes to the European Parliament on Tuesday 29 January.

28.01.2013, 10:29 GMT

CoderDojo is a shining example of Irish innovation and ingenuity. It is a not-for-profit organization which runs free clubs for children to learn computer coding from expert volunteers. Started in Cork, CoderDojo is now an international collaboration of computer coding clubs in 23 countries and 200 locations. Irish MEP Seán Kelly is hosting CoderDojo in Brussels, to teach MEPs a thing or two about computer coding.

Seán Kelly has invited his fellow MEPs to “listen and learn” at a showcase “CoderDojo” computer coding workshop, led by young Irish CoderDojo mentors, in the European Parliament building in Brussels, on Tuesday 29 January, 1300-1600.  Mentors from several EU countries will be running exciting projects with the children, including flying a mini-drone and creating an app to drive a remote controlled toy-car.

At CoderDojos, young people (7-17 years) learn from volunteer mentors how to code, and to develop websites, apps, programs, games and more.  Dojos also organize tours of technology companies - some technology companies have set up their own Dojos - and bring in guest speakers to talk about their careers.  CoderDojo inspires the young Irish entrepreneurs and hi-tech workers of the future.  It lays the foundation for the jobs and growth of tomorrow- the message at the heart of the Irish EU Presidency.  

Commenting in advance of the European Parliament event, Seán Kelly MEP said:
“Computer code is a universal language used across the EU and the world.  Young EU citizens fluent in computer coding can drive the jobs, growth and innovation which will underpin Europe’s recovery, and ensure Europe’s future economic success.”

CoderDojo (One Rule: Be Cool!) was co-founded in 2011 by 20 year old Irish entrepreneur James Whelton, recently named a Forbes “30 Under 30” Social Entrepreneur, and Bill Liao, an American entrepreneur and philanthropist.  It has proved a runaway success in Ireland and across the world.  There are over 15,000 children in the programme, and technical mentors have donated the equivalent of €250 million in voluntary time. As CoderDojo co-founder Bill Liao says, "Globally we have a huge shortage of great coders: the kind who, like poets, can make more impact with fewer words. We need to change this now!"

CoderDojo has already produced successful young entrepreneurs.  Harry Moran has created the successful pizzabot app, which topped the Apple app chart in Ireland, displacing Angry Birds. And Shane Curran, an Irish 13-year old self-taught coder/entrepreneur, created a cloud-based library management system, because he felt librarians didn’t have the tools they needed to do their jobs. Shane believes that without CoderDojo, it would have taken him twice as long to learn coding properly.

CoderDojo has also enabled volunteer mentors from different industries, who might normally never meet, to gather and exchange ideas. So Coderdojo spawns new business relationships today, while inspiring the next generation of technological innovators.   

The event in the European Parliament builds on a very successful Dojo held for Irish politicians and entrepreneurs last year in the Irish Parliament, the Dáil, to mark the first anniversary of the founding of the movement.

Already Martine Tempels, Head of Telenet for Business, has partnered with CoderDojo, and will be announcing the rolling out of new ‘Dojo’ clubs across Belgium.

The European Parliament Dojo will enable MEPs and the European media to experience the magic and excitement of a CoderDojo, engage with the IT mentors, listen and learn from the children who are the Dojo stars, and we hope leave inspired to start Dojos in their own countries.

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