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Apps for Good - opening doors and building confidence

By: Jessica Dillon
On: 17th December 2014
Organisation name: Apps for Good

I recently had the pleasure of talking to Amarah Khan – one of Apps for Good’s first award winners, back in 2011.  Now 17 and oozing with enthusiasm, Amarah told me about how the whole experience has given her confidence and opened new doors.

If you’re yet to discover it, where have you been? Apps for Good is a technology education movement that aims to grow a generation of problem-solvers and digital makers; students who can create, market and launch new products that change their world.

However, Apps for Good is about much more than creating an app. Students learn important digital skills, UX and product design, as well as gaining the opportunity to develop other valuable entrepreneurial and transferable skills.

Amarah, from Tower Hamlets in London, was just 12 when she became involved in Apps for Good. She had no experience in coding and had never really questioned technology, where it came from and who created it.

At the time, Amarah was a shy young girl, so when a teacher asked her to join Apps for Good she immediately said no. With a little persuasion however, the teacher managed to talk her round and since then she has benefitted from a wide range of positive character and career building experiences.

Amarah’s newfound confidence
Amarah designed an app called Buzzer Buddiez. It’s an alarm clock that texts your friends with something you’d rather they didn’t know so you jump out of bed before it shares your secrets! She admits her app wasn’t a great success but realises that creating the app was just a small part of the experience.   She got the chance to speak in front of 1,000 people, and took part in a Dragon’s Den event, where she had to pitch to media and business professionals from organisations including Channel 4 and Orange Labs. Apps for Good has helped Amarah overcome her natural shyness and give her the confidence to take on something as daunting as public speaking. Something she never thought she would do less than five years ago.

Amarah thinks participating in the Apps for Good programme has resulted in a number of other benefits too,  including:

  • Learning problem solving techniques
    Apps for Good encourages young people to identify a challenge and use technology to solve the problem. Amarah says: “Complain if something isn’t good enough, but don’t just complain. Find solutions!”
  • A mindset change
    Amarah said that Apps for Good has changed her mindset for the better. She recently took part in a music production at school, something she would never normally be involved in. “Apps for Good has taught me to give everything a go,” she says.
  • Plugging the careers information gap
    Amarah knew she didn’t want to be a lawyer or a doctor but felt that much of the careers advice in school was focused on these types of roles and there was no information about tech jobs at all. Enthused by Apps for Good, Amarah began to push for more tech business people to visit the school to talk about the industry and raise awareness of the roles available.
  • Opening doors
    Amarah now has a paid role assisting and leading Technology Will Save Us workshops, introduced to her by the Apps for Good team. She helps children and adults to use kits to create useful technology.

When I caught up with Apps for Good CEO, Debbie Forster, I asked her about Amarah.

Debbie said: “Amarah is a shining example of exactly what Apps for Good strives to achieve; young people (especially girls!) with the insight and passion to identify problems, the digital, business and creative skills to know how to solve them and the confidence to make it happen.”

Debbie told me that back when Amarah started out on the Apps for Good programme it was being delivered in just two London centres to 34 young people. Since then they have grown by 50,000% and are now working in 480 schools with 23,000 students across the whole of the UK. 

If you are interested in finding out more about Apps for Good, then you  can read more about their fantastic work and growth via their recently published 2013/2014 Impact Report.  You can also lend your support by signing up as and Education Partner, Expert or supporter of this fantastic movement.

Read the full article on Amarah and her journey here.