how c.o.d.e. helps youth with neurodiversity

By Mio Senzaki, Good News Journalist


Have you wondered how computer programs are running behind the screens? There is no doubt that more and more people are interested in learning how to code - writing computer programs. Knowing how to code is critical in today’s society, but it is not that simple. How difficult would it be for anyone to learn to code? It requires various skills like problem-solving, logical/abstract thinking and patience. Then, how challenging would the coding be for neurodivergent students if societal stigma thinks they have difficulties learning? In society, there is prejudice against children with learning differences that we probably cannot understand fully.

Bahar Moussavi and her colleagues have taken the initiative to create opportunities and platforms for children to be familiar with computers/programming, explore their interests and acquire skills in coding. But this does not look like a typical classroom. They cherish the idea of neurodiversity - we should expect that every person learns differently because of the variations within our human brains.

In other words, it does not matter whether a student is or is not diagnosed with ADHD, OCD or learning differences because every student has their own unique needs. Students should be able to learn through tailored learning styles in coding or anything else. In one-on-one classes held by the organization, each teacher learns about each student’s needs and goes at their own pace.

The idea of neurodiversity may sound simple, but the stigmas against students with learning differences are still prevalent. Many students still grow up in a system that cannot fully support them. Bahar adds that

“As a result, students who are neurodivergent grow up discouraged because they feel that they cannot learn properly, are not smart enough, and do not feel motivated to find jobs eventually.”

Despite the social stigma about learning differences, the CODE Initiative has significantly impacted the neurodivergent communities.

The families who may struggle with exceptional circumstances can receive a 30% discount for taking the classes. In addition, the CODE Initiative has partnered with BC tech and other sponsoring tech companies in BC to provide classes for free to students who are not able to afford them. CodewithCODE bursary program allows for more inclusive opportunities for all families and will enable students to explore coding without the financial cost burden (https://www.thecodeinitiative.ca/codewithcode).


How one can get involved and make an impact

If you are interested in becoming a part of the CODE Initiative, there are many avenues. You can get involved as a parent or a student who wants to take classes. There are opportunities for volunteer or executive positions. Executives usually join as volunteers since the CODE Initiative is a non-profit organization, but you may get hired depending on the situation.

Because of Bahar’s and her colleagues’ beliefs and efforts to bring a systematic change, the organization now has nearly 700 students and has worked with about 700-800 volunteers.

If this story inspires you, check this out.


Opening Doors With Education.

We’ve come a long way. Our journey is still ongoing, and we are always working towards creating new opportunities and supporting our students with interactive coding workshops.

The C.O.D.E. Initiative is a female-founded non-profit organization that stands for Creating Opportunities and Defining Education.

We are at the forefront of empowering youth, particularly neurodivergent and autistic youth, through tailored STEM workshops and coding classes. Since our founding in 2017, we have been providing accessible and inclusive learning opportunities to the neurodiverse community and amplifying the voices of individuals in our communities.