Coolest Projects: How Jeroen’s app can support refugee communities
As part of our Coolest Projects youth stories, we have been speaking to some participants of last year’s event and hearing all about their awesome Coolest Projects experiences. This time, Jeroen has kindly shared his story with us. Jeroen was 15 when he attended the event last year, with his admirable project, Welcome Here. He is a member of the Mechelen @ Technopolis Dojo in Belgium.
An inspiring idea to help people in difficult situations
Jeroen had the idea to create his project when he heard that many people were coming to Europe in the winter of 2016 as refugees. As a way to help, he developed a project in the form of an app, designed “to help them with their integration and give them a better understanding of the new environment where they landed.” You can read more about Jeroen’s app here.
Research and peer learning
Jeroen needed to overcome both technical and legal challenges when making his idea a reality. The integrity of his idea did not go unnoticed, and Jeroen was able to conduct some research for his project with relevant organisations in this field; “I had the opportunity to talk to refugee assistance organisations in Belgium and France. They were enthusiastic to help me and they also gave me inspiration on the content and the conversations in the app.”
Jeroen also had the opportunity to expand his technical knowledge during his project’s realisation, and sought the help of a technically skilled friend at his Dojo; “on the technical side I talked to a good friend at CoderDojo Mechelen, who helped me to extend the technical quality of the app.” Peer learning and sharing knowledge is an integral aspect of the CoderDojo ethos, and Jeroen’s story of cooperation is a perfect example! Jeroen’s advice for Ninjas embarking on a new project is to; “talk with others about your idea, it can only get better this way. It’s alway important to get feedback, so you know how and what to improve.”
Jeroen’s remarkable idea and hard work was given recognition, both at home in Belgium and further afield, where he received some publicity in local and international news. At Coolest Projects 2017, Jeroen was awarded as the winner of the Future Makers category. This prize category recognises projects which address a social cause and strive towards a positive future.
Jeroen’s success at Coolest Projects has motivated him to continue with his passion for coding, and has provided him with some new opportunities; “the recognition of Future Makers definitely opened new doors for me and expanded my network. “ Jeroen even has his own YouTube channel, Code Teacher, where he shares his knowledge!
Jeroen’s Coolest Projects advice: go for it!
Jeroen shared some advice for young people who are thinking of registering for this year’s event; “my biggest advice for young coders who take part or want to join the event is to go for it and never give up. If I would have given up on my biggest problem, I wouldn’t be here today and doing what I like the most…coding!” Well said, Jeroen!
If you have been inspired by Jeroen and have an idea that you are working on at your Dojo or Raspberry Pi initiative, make sure to register your project for the Coolest Projects International event here. This year, Coolest Projects is also coming to the UK for an exciting UK event, which you can register for here.
***The closing date for registrations is the 25th March 2018 for both events, so we will look forward to receiving your ideas before then!***
If you are unable to attend Coolest Projects you can still share what you’re making with us using #MyCoolestProject to be in with a chance of winning a Pi Zero and more awesome prizes! Check out this blog post to find out more.