More than 700 children across five cities in Belgium have participated in Code United, the country’s largest coding camp for kids, which was part-funded by Liberty Global.

Liberty Global and its operating company Telenet teamed up with Belgian non-profit BeCentral Foundation to launch the Code United camp last year. 720 children, aged 8 to 12 years old, received a free week-long bootcamp where they developed their digital skills, from learning about coding and robotics to understanding safe internet use.

The Code United programme is part of a series of initiatives Liberty Global sponsors in our efforts to help youth develop the skills they need to flourish in the digital world.

Molly Bruce, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and ESG Communications, said: “Children are society’s most connected age group, starting their digital journey before they can even walk or talk. As a technology, media and telecoms company, we have a pivotal role in providing digital education to kids – our goal is to empower them to use technology for positive change and prepare them to be the skilled learners and leaders of tomorrow.”

Both Liberty Global and Telenet were core partners in this 2022 initiative, from providing funding to volunteering and analysing impact.

Nurturing digital literacy and breaking the digital divide

Developing digital literacy skills is crucial in helping kids as they become lifelong learners.

One-in-three internet users globally is younger than 18 years old, according to UNICEF. Although they’re surfing the internet, playing video games, and watching content on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok, young people don’t inherently possess digital skills. This is where our partnerships with organisations like BeCentral come into play.

Laurent Hublet, BeCentral Foundation Co-Founder and Managing Director said the Code United week-long programme yields three key opportunities, including:

  • Developing digital skills and online safety, giving young children digital knowledge they can apply to pursue any career they want today and in the future;
  • Nurturing creativity, through learning coding at a young age to foster critical thinking, collaboration, problem-solving skills and creativity;
  • Opening new doors to girls, introducing young women to technology before gender stereotypes set in, encouraging them to consider a future in STEM.

Overall, Code United provides vital digital training to children who may not have access to such opportunities.

The programme focuses on cultivating a diversified group of kids, with an emphasis on supporting low-income households; 89 percent of the children in the 2022 camp came from underprivileged or “very” underprivileged homes, assessed according to their school’s overall socioeconomic status.

Early exposure to technology is vital in encouraging young girls to pursue careers in the field, too. With this in mind, Code United retained a gender balance each year – in 2022, 44 percent of attendees were girls.

Hublet said: “We want all children to benefit from being digital natives, regardless of their gender, culture, social or economic background. We’re showing the next generation the opportunities in front of them so they can be consumers and producers of technology of the future,” Hublet said.

What we’re doing at Liberty Global to foster digital skills in children

We’ve partnered with NGOs across our European operations and helped more than 2,200 people through our digital skills programmes.

Initiatives include our annual Future Maker Awards, which challenges 7 to 17-year-olds to apply their coding skills to improving their communities, and our Minecraft Education Challenge, aimed at students 10 to 16 years old who are interested in learning about the future of cities, touching on technology and infrastructure.

Bruce said: “We’re creating exciting ways for the next generation of innovators to learn the skills they need to succeed in a digital economy. If we can encourage young minds to think critically and use digital skills, we’re setting the stage for innovation and positive change.”

Read more about Code United.