Junior Katherine McPhee and her friend, sophomore Milan Narula, are doing homework. It's just a regular weeknight for two high school girls. But open her closet door and you can see why McPhee and Narula are anything but regular high school students.
The shirts and tablets in the closet belong to a project the two created called Open Sesame Coding for Kids, a program that teaches computer coding to kids who have had difficult life circumstances.
“We feel that coding is the future. Using computers is the future. And if these kids don’t know how to use computers, how to code, they’re going to be lost in the future,” says Narula.
For almost a year they’ve been going to places like the Orange County Rescue Mission to help kids who otherwise might not have access to a program like this learn something that could help them get into college someday.
“Coding is a university thing sometimes and a high school thing. And it’s really cool that we’re able to use this at a young age,” says a child at the Mission.
They’ve helped over 50 kids learn to code in the process, but the program had an even bigger impact than they could have imagined.
“Some of these kids, they’re a couple years behind in school. It can really be a big confidence boost for them to do something that they’re good at, and something that as soon as they start doing it they like it. And they realize I can do this. I can be good at this,” says McPhee.
Coding has become a pathway for these kids to learn and the attention they receive in a mostly one-to-one ratio showing them that someone is investing in their futures.