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Recent graduates of YSM's Computer Literacy Centre

YSM’s Computer Literacy Centre: A life-giving place

Yathu’s story

Eighteen years ago, when Yathu was in seventh grade, his mom told him she’d signed him up for a computer club at YSM twice a week after school. Yathu’s parents had come to Canada as part of a wave of immigrants fleeing civil war in Sri Lanka in the early 1990s. They found community in Toronto among fellow refugees from unrest in Yugoslavia, Somalia, the Caribbean, and the Philippines. 

“At the time, I didn’t understand how important computer literacy was,” Yathu remembers. “My mom enrolled me so I would stay out of trouble. Back then, the best things you could do for a child were to keep them out of trouble, to keep them busy, and keep them safe. YSM’s Computer Literacy Centre (CLC) provided safety and computer literacy.”

Today Yathu manages portfolios as an investment advisor at the largest wealth management firm in Canada. It was his years of experience as a cross-asset trader that opened the door to his current job, but the foundational computer literacy skills he gained through the CLC helped him both at school and as he sought his first job.

“Eighteen years ago, many schools didn’t have a computer lab,” he says. “This was an opportunity to play with a computer, and I valued learning something new. The CLC put me ahead of the curve back then.”

Supporting computer literacy today

Today, our computer centre continues to keep its students ahead of the curve — growing to include classes in robotics, coding, graphic design, game development, and more. About 300 children and youth participate weekly, and about a thousand participate annually in the CLC’s camps, March break
or professional advancement day programs, and school visits.

“The kids love it, and we love to see them interacting with tech in very creative ways,” says Coordinator of Computer Education Julian Williams.
“They wouldn’t have access to the level or variety of these courses anywhere. We have long waiting lists.”

Last December, the CLC rolled out the red carpet to celebrate 54 new graduates from their programs, each of whom received a new Chromebook or laptop computer in celebration of their achievement. When a family may all share one computer for work and school needs, a new laptop makes a huge longterm difference.

“The reward of seeing children, youth, and adults gaining confidence in computers, words can’t describe it,” Julian says. “It’s a digital tech world — gaining confidence and competence in a variety of computer skills will increase their likelihood of being successful. The CLC is a life-giving place.”