Introduction: What is Techsdale?
Techsdale (TXDL) is a mentorship and development program, and our purpose is to teach young people how to make games, apps and websites. Techsdale was created not only to help youth express themselves through digital media, but to also to diversify the tech sector by steering young people of various backgrounds into employability and internships. Techsdale is currently a member of the Centre for Social Innovation’s incubator program, Agents of Change.
Our program provides an entry point for young gamers to become content creators, in addition to being consumers. Using a team-based learning model, our mission is to help young people combine their voices, imagination, and experience with the required skills to find a foothold in the gaming & tech industries. Techsdale is powered by the raw talent of our students, the determination of our mentorship team, and support from our business & community partners, which include Humber College, Sandbox Inc., and LAMP.
Techsdale: about the program
Techsdale’s game development program is a 14-week course, meeting once per week. Our classes are team-based and collaborative; students are introduced to the fundamentals of game design and then separated into development teams. By the end of the program, the goal for each team is to create and release a video game.
Knowing how to tell stories through gaming let young people from diverse backgrounds share their stories with the world. By engaging local youth to become both creators and consumers of the media that entertain, connect and surround us, they become agents of change in their own right.
For young Rexdale residents interested in the tech industry, the path is challenging. Developing the skills can be expensive, and the tech sector’s problems with diversity can be discouraging. In addition, not all public schools have the hardware and industry expertise needed to give young people a foot in the door. Techsdale’s goal is to eliminate these barriers by teaching youth in Rexdale, as well as surrounding areas, to make video games, apps and websites that reflect their interests, their passions, and their unique voices.
Our vision for Techsdale was always a big one, but we know it’s achievable: we aim to be Toronto’s geek Mecca. Our pilot program has proven that the Rexdale community is hungry for change, and that partnering our youth with mentors in education and the tech industry will produce amazing and often unexpected results. Teaching young people to make awesome video games, apps, and web pages is only the first step of the process. With the help of our backers and our community, Techsdale will grow into an innovation hub. We envision a multi-use facility that houses not only after-school programs where our mentors teach coding, graphic design, web development, and a multitude of other tech skills, but also affordable and dynamic office space for tech and gaming startups.
In addition to talent incubation, we will build entrepreneurial spirit among our students. Techsdale will offer consultation, resources, and space for young people interested in startups. By housing startups and classes in the same building, our new students will have the chance to work alongside alumni, other talented young people from the local area, and industry leaders who understand the importance of giving back to communities. Our youth are shaping the market by mass adoption of tech platforms, especially as consumers of social media and gaming. Techsdale will give them the opportunity to become creators, in addition to consumers.
Fully one-third of Rexdale’s population is aged 25 or younger, and there are far too many obstacles to their success. In addition to the lack of jobs and opportunity, there’s also the matter of poor transit service, income inequality, crime, and lack of funding for extracurricular programs. In wealthier areas of Toronto, fundraising can run as high as $900 per student, while poorer areas receive as low as $3 per student. In the Rosedale area, per-capita community grant funding is $83.24. Rexdale, on the other hand? $9.23. One of the easiest ways to correct these disparities is by pushing for programs that equip our youth with marketable skills. Given that tech is one of Canada’s only consistent growth industries, Techsdale can not only bridge that opportunity gap, but potentially bring revitalization to a community very much in need.