Starting in January, girls age 12-18 are invited to join a new coding club at the Oak Park Public Library. Girls Who Code, a national nonprofit working to close the gender gap in technology, is dedicated to supporting and increasing the number of women in the computer science field, and I’m excited about getting more girls from our area involved.

This summer, before I began my junior year at Oak Park and River Forest High School, I approached the Oak Park Public Library about launching a Girls Who Code Club chapter. I figured a lot of girls in Oak Park and River Forest would be interested, and I knew also that the library would be a welcoming place for our neighbors in surrounding communities who may not be as fortunate to have the facilities offered in our villages. The library is committed to digital learning for all, and it has the free, open, public space and resources to host a new opportunity like this.

The club is open to all girls, no matter where they live. If you don’t know how to code, come learn! If you do know how to code, come learn to code better.

Coding is one of the widest kinds of fields and a good skill to have going into college. But you don’t have to want to be a coder to join. Girls Who Code is a place to get comfortable with technology and to understand how all the information and data generated today can be translated to be useful in our everyday lives. You don’t have to aspire to be a coder to get something out of the class.

I first got involved with Girls Who Code last year at the Broadview Public Library, where we built an interactive website to help people learn how they could help the environment. I went into it not knowing much about coding, but the club’s open environment helped me not feel intimidated. Everyone is more or less in the same boat, and there’s no pressure.

The new club’s first meeting is Wednesday, Jan. 10 at 5 p.m., in the Oak Park Public Library’s Computer Classroom, 834 Lake St., Oak Park. After that, we’ll meet every Wednesday evening, 5:30-7 p.m. High School Services Librarian Rachael Bild and Digital Learning Coordinator Deidre Winterhalter will facilitate, and OPRF teacher and Mathematics Division Head Julie Frey will also lead some sessions.

The club is free and open to all girls, age 12-18, and no previous coding experience is needed. Learn more at girlswhocode.com and oppl.org.

Carli Tucci is a junior at Oak Park and River Forest High School.

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