An award winning anti-bullying app has been created by a 12-year-old Irish girl, who said she got the idea after being picked on because of her Traveller background.
Kathleen Marie Maughan is a member of the CoderDojo club in Deansrath, Dublin. CoderDojo is a global organisation run by volunteers that teaches computer coding to children for free.
Maughan said she had only ever used a computer to play games before she joined. Now she is the proud owner of the 2014 CoderDojo Coolest Project Award.
Her Anti-Bullying Quiz advises youngsters of the “six things to do” if they are being targeted.
She told the Irish Times: “I made an anti-bullying quiz because I always used to get bullied for being a Traveller. First I learned how to make cartoons. After a while I made an app. I was told if I made this app yoke I could go to DCU to show it. So I made it.”
The young coder also added that once she had been taught how to code that making the app “was easy”.
Maughan’s victory prompted Bill Liao, the founder of CoderDojo, to arrange the delivery of new equipment to the centre. Children are now able to create the code for their apps on any monitor or screen.
Alison Bradley is one of the volunteers who facilitates the classes. She explained that the key aim is not to produce world-class coders, but to build the confidence and self-belief of the children that take part.
She said: “It teaches kids there’s more out there than being involved in certain things in their environment. They get to meet different people, build relationships and build self-esteem. The kids think they can do anything now.”
Aoife O’Toole-King, who set up the Deansrath CoderDojo, echoed Bradley’s words saying: “When Kathleen Marie first started here, she had absolutely zero confidence. She wouldn’t even look you in the eye. Kathleen Marie’s got the brains. She, and all the kids, can be or do anything they want. They just need someone to believe in them.”
Maughan is now learning a more complex system of computer coding, and plans to go to college to learn to be a “world-class coder”.
O’Toole-King finally signed off by stating: “Kathleen Marie has such potential. In the Travelling community, going to college would not be unheard of, but it would be unusual. We want to make sure she reaches her potential. For someone like her, the sky’s the limit.”