NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — It’s a summer program that leaves New Haven teenagers with valuable technology skills. A couple dozen are about to graduate, but a new class starts Monday. The best part may be that it is completely free.
It takes place in what looks like the office of a major tech company. The difference is, the people in front of the computer screens are just 16 and 17 years old. They already have skills, however, that put them well on their way to careers in technology.
One video looks like a professional sports promotional film, but the creator – and the subject – is 17 year-old Jorge Velez.
“My movie’s about going from baseball player to boxer,” said Velez. “Basically, kind of like a biography.”
He is part of New Haven’s District Arts and Education summer tech camp.
“What we’re doing is just opening doors,” explained A.M. Baht, the CEO and founder of District Arts and Education. “Just providing access to all of the various pathways in tech in a way that is very project-based. Learn by doing.”
They are just finishing up a four-week summer program where students were encouraged to use their new-found tech skills to tell their own stories.
“Two tracks. One is website development,” Baht said. “So, you go from zero to learning HTML, CSS, Java to be able to create legitimate, professional websites.”
The other track is making videos. Ashlynn Topper is 16 years old and did her video on the pandemic’s effect on her, and she plans to do more.
“First I want to direct music videos. then I want to direct movies, but I really want to get into directing,” Topper said.
These teens now have the skills to do things like that. While they graduate on Saturday, there is another one of these free summer programs starting next week. This first one turned Jorge Velez into a fan of video storytelling.
“It was really fun making the movie. Editing the movie was awesome, just creating and shooting,” Velez said. The next four-week summer camp starts Monday. You can sign up until Monday and there are still spots available. For more information, you can visit their website.