Volunteer stories: Evan Cusick

We love to hear about our volunteers’ experiences running Code Clubs across the country – we spoke to Evan Cusick, who ran a club at a school in North Belfast. Though Evan’s club was small, he had a great impact on the students he worked with…

Hi my name is Evan Cusick, I ran 7 weekly Code Club sessions from September to December 2015 at Edenbrooke Primary School in North Belfast. This was my first time running a Code Club or anything similar and I don’t think it will be my last!

I signed up to Code Club as I have always enjoyed volunteering with children and wanted to play my part in passing on coding skills to the next generation. Fortunately, my company Kainos is hugely supportive of tech outreach activities, especially Code Club, and allows employees half a day a week to volunteer.

Starting The Club

I ended up starting my club at Edenbrooke after a request from Pamela Algie, the teacher with responsibility for the school’s IT and Computing. After a meeting to discuss dates and time I ran the first session within 2 weeks, after-school in the computer room. During the term we covered Code Club’s first scratch module using the exercises available for registered club leaders to download from the website. There was an attendance of around 3 pupils, with 2 boys pictured below attending every week.


Running The Club

I found that volunteering with Code Club took about 3 hours of my time each week, including preparation and organisation. A helpful tip is to run through the activity yourself beforehand so you can anticipate any problems the pupils may run into. In general, the club was fun and relaxed with my involvement being pretty ‘hands off’ as the kids were able to follow and complete the activity sheets themselves with little assistance. Indeed, after a few weeks the more capable pupils were able to help and guide their fellow club members when they had finished that week’s activity early. Another helpful point I picked up is to ask the pupil who is stuck if they understand how the code is meant to work, they are usually able to work out the problem themselves with a little prompting.

What I got out of it

I had an enjoyable time teaching the club attendees how to build apps in Scratch. I would definitely recommend volunteering with Code Club to anyone who is considering it. There is nothing to worry about as long as you are prepared, organized and enjoy interacting with children. If you go for it, you will be surprised by the ability and enthusiasm the kids will have for programming!

Would you like to help provide children in your area with the chance to get excited about coding and digital making? Find out more about volunteering with Code Club.

Keen to share your volunteering story? Pop us an email at hello@codeclub.org.uk