Brogniezstraat 54, 1070 Anderlecht

Van maandag t/m vrijdag van 9.00 tot 17.00 uur

Capital Digital, coding school for Channel Zone children

Children and young people learn 21st century skills. Since 2015, a lot of Brussels children, adolescents and young jobseekers have been sharpening their coding skills during school holidays.
Youth At Maks vzw, we encourage young people from the Canal Zone to engage productively with technology to increase their scientific literacy. Our goal is to narrow the gap with the labour market for our young people. With Capital Digital, we are responding to the demand for workers in ICT and teachers in education.

The Capital Digital project consists of training courses for young people to become coding animators and internship weeks during which these young people work with children as animators.

Youth animators
Last calendar year, we organised four training sessions for 40 animators each, during which a new batch of animators learnt basic coding skills, learnt how to lead a group and acquired pedagogical skills.

What was exceptional in 2021 was that after a year of online training in July, training could resume in vivo. We therefore paid extra attention to group dynamics and the different roles an animator should take.

We taught them a new methodology that we developed with the coaches of Maks vzw themselves. We encourage the children and young people to write a short story which they will afterwards convert into a game format where other participants take on different roles in the story as it is set out and played in the room. Participants are then guided to turn this real-world game into a computer game.

The experienced animators were also challenged with the development of applications using machine learning and artificial intelligence, among other things. So they programmed their own chatbot using a variant of the Scratch programming language as well as a rock, paper, scissors game where they taught the computer’s webcam to distinguish different positions of their hand via image recognition. They played rock, paper, scissors against their computer.

They also developed their own portfolio website on which they published their coding projects and built an electronic weather station capable of measuring humidity and temperature.

By employing our animators on our internships (128 student jobs in 2021), they gained experience and got a first work experience for their CV. For them, this is the start of their careers. We value a correct working attitude. At the end of each training day, the coaches briefly evaluate the course of the day with their animators and make adjustments accordingly. Attention is paid to pedagogy, preparation, planning, organisation, and teamwork as well as punctuality and correct use of language. This is because the young people set an example to the children in their group.

More than 300 children participated in the training weeks in 2021. Each child paid only €10 to participate. The placement weeks continued in Anderlecht, at the Excelsior Hall (Eloystraat 80), in Molenbeek at Foyer (Werkhuizenstraat 25) and our own 1080 PC classroom (Hovenierstraat 45) and in Schaarbeek at the Paviljoenschool (François-Joseph Navez 59), GC De Kriekelaar (Gallaitstraat 86) and, for the first time, at BS Kompas – Sint Angelus Institute (Gallaitstraat 58).

During the Easter holidays, the rules around youth employment in relation to corona were stricter than during the other holidays. We have adapted our operation accordingly by reducing groups and providing extra space.

In 2022, we plan to further strengthen and expand Capital Digital.

The organisation of Capital Digital is made possible by support from the Digital Belgium Skills Fund, Innoviris and the Youth Department of the Flemish Community Commission.

“I realised that in class I was behaving like some kids during the internship: arguing, shouting…”
AHMED, 17y.

Extra oxygen for Capital Digital:
“For the second time, we gave Capital Digital a breath of fresh air, partly through donations from our employees. But in addition, we also got Maks vzw a bit closer to our operations by having them give workshops in our offices. This way, the trainees see and feel what an office is and how work is done there. We also hope to welcome Capital Digital there soon, now that distance learning may finally fade into the background. And who knows, we might even take it a step further soon, because seeing the kids’ projects makes us think that one of our next content creators might be among them.”
Co-CEO of Publicis Group Belgium, Founding Father of Capital Digital, makes donation to Maks vzw.

Maks Youth in Figures:
children and young people
participant hours
children/young people meet weekly
Young people trained as STEM animators

Voice academy – Knowing: gives you VOICE
afterschool-creakids-makersclub 100/week
Participant hours 3.000

Digital school outings
Participating children: 560
Participant hours: 3.920

Capital Digital
Participating children: 301
Participating youth: 116
Participant hours: 14.060

Participating children: 300
Participant hours: 1.800

2 different trajectories
Participating youth: 15
Participating hours: 750