120 Flintshire pupils trained as Digital Heroes to help communities get online
Pupils representing 34 primary schools in Flintshire recently descended upon Ysgol Cae’r Nant in Connah’s Quay to join forces to help overcome digital exclusion in their communities.
The children’s aim for the day was to discover why some people aren’t always as tech savvy or confident undertaking tasks online. Of course, being budding Digital Heroes they were also taught how to inspire older generations to use technology, and bring fun, education, and online safety to those living in Flintshire.
Digital Communities Wales, Welsh Government’s funded digital inclusion programme delivered by Cwmpas, have trained over 5000 school children across Wales to be Digital Heroes, usually delivering to one class at a time. An event of this size was a first, but Digital Skills and Inclusion Trainers Ema Williams and Michael O’Hara were up to the challenge. Equipped with tech devices and activity cards, the trainers led on discussions around being safe online, secure passwords, and digital footprints.
Ema Williams, Digital Inclusion Trainer at Digital Communities Wales said:
“The primary school children know how to use technology and are very aware of digital safety. Our job is to teach them how to teach others. It’s not a case of fixing a tech problem for grandparents for example, it’s about supporting them to fix it for themselves.”
Seven percent of the population of Wales are not online, and many people who do use the internet are either not confident or lack the skills to navigate the web safely. The children were invited to put themselves in the shoes of a person who has no access, interest, or confidence in using the internet, and describe the barriers that those people face in society. With most public services, health care and communication being conducted through online channels, the children learned of the huge impact that this can have on an individual, how isolated they can become and how this can affect their financial, emotional, and physical wellbeing.
At the end of the session, the children received their certificates and their badges, declaring them to be certified Digital Heroes. They will go on to use their new skills to support local communities with teachers identifying various volunteering opportunities, such as visits to care homes and digital drop ins.
Kellie Goodall, Assistant Headteacher at Ysgol Cae’r Nant, expressed her delight, saying:
“The Flintshire Digital Heroes event was a huge success and a great opportunity for children across Flintshire to learn together. I am excited to see how the children will use their new knowledge and skills to support their schools and wider communities.”
So, what next? Teachers across Flintshire will be working with Cwmpas Digital Advisor, Linzi Jones, to develop training and volunteering projects within their schools and communities.
Linzi Jones, Digital Inclusion Advisor at Digital Communities Wales explained:
“Intergenerational activities can be so powerful for inspiring people of all ages. We have worked with schools that have developed their own internet café, whilst others have gone on to deliver presentations at nursing homes, libraries, and community halls. The children have a wonderful way of motivating older generations to try technology, without making them feel embarrassed or judged on their lack of digital skills. It’s lovely to witness!”
Feedback from the schools involved has been very positive.
Teacher Claire Griffiths from Ysgol Penyffordd said:
“The children really enjoyed the session and it gave them the opportunity to reflect on their own digital presence as well as how they can help others.”
Teacher Laura Cartwright from Ysgol Derwen agreed, saying:
“It was a lovely session. Pitched perfectly to the children’s level.”
Additional praise came from a teacher at Southdown CP School, Courteney Say, who said:
“Really insightful. All the materials would be great for us to have to train others.”
Courteney’s feedback summarises the aim of all training from Digital Communities Wales, working with organisations by educating and inspiring so that they can pass digital skills on to others.
Dewi Smith, Programme Manager for Digital Communities Wales informs organisations wanting to help others improve digital skills:
“Organisations of any size in Wales can get in contact with Digital Communities Wales for free digital skills training. Through teaching those with access to digitally excluded people, knowledge and skills will trickle down, which will see levels of digital skills and confidence in Wales increase over time.”