August 2018, we successfully hosted yet another summer boot camp, #SheInnovates for thirty secondary school girls age 10 - 18 fully sponsored by Project 30 for 30. All thanks to Mrs. Tolu Owokade who decided to make this her “birthday party”. Read further on how the idea was birthed and the inspiration behind it. Enjoy :)
‘I want to make a difference in Africa’ - Oyinkansola (Learner)
‘You have inspired me to take on a difficult challenge’ - Amarachi (Sponsor)
‘I am proud of you because you evolved from being a dreamer to a doer’ - Deolu (Sponsor)
August 11th 2017, my best friend - L had just turned 29 the day before and I asked ‘what are our plans for our 30th?’ In truth, I was only searching for inspirations for an Instagram-worthy house party and a photo shoot with the 3-0 shiny gold balloons. L said she hadn’t given it much thought but she was thinking more about what she would like to have accomplished by then. My response was ‘I’m thinking party while you’re thinking achievements. wehdone Ma!’. At least we were both thinking. March 2018, I was speaking with coach T and she teased out my passions. I wasn’t surprised to know that providing equal opportunities for the female gender is a cause that I will work arduously for through my life or be reminded that technology has an integral role in today’s world and I can use it as a greater tool for positive impact than I am already doing it.
I kept going back to the conversation with L and coach T. They were defining moments for Project 30for30. I decided to take on a challenge I am passionate about. Schooling and working in the STEM space have exposed me further to the untapped value that girls and women can offer in the STEM industry.My goal for Project 30for30 was to unearth some of the value that girls can offer in STEM. To give girls who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity an exposure to a learning experience that sets a foundation for their lifelong STEM journey and builds their confidence.
With the aim of the project defined, I started engaging personal contacts who had experience on how to make the idea become reality. We built different models and created a plan to implement. This is typically where I hang my boots. I have a dream, I plan and the implementation gets perfectly executed in my head. Ideas, they say rule the world. I think ideas combined with a dollop of grit can truly create a better version of the world we see today.
This time, I decided to act. The 2 main elements that would make Project 30for30 successful were funding and delivery. Gofundme was the easier route or so I thought. Then I realized how much more work I would have to put in to reach the financial target. With the help of some of my cool friends, I built a fundraising site that allowed me to share my vision with my family, friends and the rest of the world. Having done some work with Afro Tech Girls (ATG) in the past, I knew Yvonne, Deola and Morenike would make a great team for the technical delivery of the STEM camp. ATG worked with key facilitators such as Dhack Institute to deliver the core modules that cut across coding, robotics, animation and data analytics.
Over the next few months from March till August, I leveraged my personal and professional network to plan the 2-week camp that ran from August 13th 2018 to August 31st camp that was excellently delivered by Afro Tech Girls. Not without hiccups but with some of the best memories I will carry through my life’s journey.
One of the experiences that remain on the forefront of my mind was a question from Oyinkansola (one of the brightest girls in the group) during my session with the girls on the final day of the camp. She asked how I felt about having Project 30for30 instead of a party. Well, I got a photo shoot with my family but having the opportunity to give the gift of learning to others is unquantifiable. It’s a seed that I believe will bear fruits that will outlive you and me.
The 2-week camp left me thinking about the gift that we have to offer the next generation. This was only the first step of many in the journey to a more inclusive world, one where both men and women have equal opportunity and are valued in their work, particularly in the STEM industry.
Take that small step, make that small change. Dream but act. The world is in desperate need of those that will dream and act. Do so with grit and a great support system. You just might be surprised about how it plays out long after.