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CodeCrew hack-a-thon teaches kids coding, inspires future generation of Memphians

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — More than 60 kids gathered at the University of Memphis to practice coding in a hack-a-thon this weekend.

The group CodeCrew organized the event for students all over the Mid-South. The group’s motto is “grit, grind and code” and their school programs are changing kids’ perspectives on job opportunities, including that of 11-year-old X’Zavier White, 11.

“Before I wanted to be a chef or play a sport but now I want to code and do lots of things with engineering,” X’Zavier said.

The nonprofit teaches computer coding and teamwork. The hack-a-thon is their biggest annual event.

“They’re going to be building apps that attack human trafficking in a variety of ways,” director Meka Egwueke said.

The former software engineer left his job and helped start CodeCrew when he saw a need. They focus on reaching kids who don’t have a lot of technology outlets.

“Our strong focus is on under-represented groups, primarily African Americans, Latinos and girls, because those groups are our fastest-growing demographics in Memphis and we must convince those groups to consider careers in computer science if we ever want Memphis to achieve the prosperity it has the potential to fulfill,” said Egwueke, who grew up in south Memphis.

Yasmeen Ali, 14, said she got into coding to follow in her big brother’s footsteps. Now she and others like seventh-grade student Ariel Thompson are making their own way.

“Because of the coding I actually want to be a software developer,” Ariel said.

“I kind of wanted to be a doctor but now I’m switching. I want to be an entrepreneur,” Yasmeen said. “I thought would be something cool, something fun. I didn’t know it would be this great!”

Proving with work and passion, these kids could change Memphis. Just give them a few years.

CodeCrew does after-school and in-school programs. If you’re interested in enrolling your child or bringing a program to your school, contact them at team@code-crew.org or call 901-229-1720. You can also visit their website.