This post was written by Alexandrea Simpson, a mentor and volunteer at YWCA Toronto.
Hi, my name is Alexandrea Simpson, I am 16 years old. I am in grade 11, attending R.H.King Academy. I volunteer my time at the YWCA three times a week and enjoy doing so.
On Tuesdays, I participate in the George Brown program called Girls Going Forward. We are learning about business skills and right now to create a product for sale. We have the choice to continue after the program ends and be young entrepreneurs. Our product is shea-based soaps which we named “Freshea”. We are potentially thinking about donating the money to a foundation. I like this program because it gives us the opportunity to develop critical thinking skills that we can apply to our daily lives. Our facilitators are so amazing that they gave us their emails to ask questions not only about our product but also any question about school or life in general.
On Thursdays, I lead a group of 3-4 girls who are between ages 9-13. We learn about girls in the media, cyber safety and discuss problems that make us ponder. I enjoy my time with the girls learning about media literacy and growing friendships with them.
On Fridays, I am a member of the Girls Council. We have meetings about what programs we should introduce to the centre, plan events and work on giving back to the community. We also talk about rewards we will have after all the hard work is done. We recently organized a workshop with the Mozilla Foundation on cyber bullying for girls in grades 5 and 6 at Sr. Samuel Steele Public School.
During the March Break, I volunteered to help out at our CIRA/.CA camp. When Usability Matters came in on Thursday, we learned about UX, which stands for user experience. UX basically refers to the experience a user has on any form of technology such as on sites, apps, games, et cetera. The experience could be either good or bad.
There was an activity where we all got a problem to solve by creating a paper prototype. In my particular mentoring group we chose the problem were a sister was taking her brother to the movies. She wanted movie suggestions and the closest theatre. We decided to start off by creating our own ideas on regular paper then brought everything together on chart paper. My experience working with the girls was a big collaboration.
After everyone was asked to present their paper prototype I noticed that there were similar responses from the girls. They thought the process behind making the paper prototype was a fun, interactive activity that helped with brainstorming and planning their apps. I learned that to create a product it has to be something people need not something that is just cool. Also I learned that this is an industry that is in demand for people who want to promote their business or company. Also I noted that after we finished the workshop some girls were actually considering working in the field.
The presenters Andrew, Louise, Sarah, and Heather were kind and succeeded in making the workshop engaging. They gave great insightful advice about just going with whatever idea you come up with because it can turn out to be a great idea. It was great to just let your mind go and fix any mistakes after. Overall all the presenters were cool and informative.
I have never done this type of activity before this workshop. I did do a similar task at a technology company I attended on “bring your kids to work day” in grade 9. I was asked to think of a visually appealing way to change the colour of facebook and we used a lot of sticky notes to do so.
I would like to thank our presenters Andrew, Louise, Sarah and Heather again for coming in and teaching us about something we did not really know much about. Not only was it engaging but the girls got a lot out of learning that UX is very important when creating a website or app. We have all have had experiences in visiting not so visually appealing and hard to navigate websites or apps. From the YWCA Girls’ Council we all thank you for opening our eyes to a career we might all consider in the future.