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Teen teaching adult to use tablet

Zyien Thompson was a quiet and reserved student. Her peers often saw her as the girl who sat quietly and observed others, rarely raising her hand or speaking up. However, everything changed when she became an ambassador for the 4-H Tech Changemakers program.

About 4-H Tech Changemakers

4-H Tech Changemakers empowers youths to teach digital literacy skills primarily to underserved audiences. The Federal Communications Commission estimates that as many as 22 million people in the United States still lack broadband access in their homes. The Alabama Statewide Digital Opportunity Plan further reports a direct link to the ability to connect to the Internet and having the necessary digital skills to navigate Internet resources. Individuals living in low-income households, individuals over the age of 60, and people living with disabilities, for example, are less likely to have digital skills. That’s why programs like 4-H Tech Changemakers are so important. However, the target audience for this program is generally underserved individuals ages 18-45 who lack digital literacy skills and seek to enhance their workforce development skills.

Becoming a Changemaker

Zyien Thompson, 4-herZyien initially joined Tech Changemakers out of a simple interest in technology. Her curiosity grew as she began learning about digital tools and resources. The turning point came when Alabama 4-H at Alabama A&M University held sessions to provide digital literacy skills to adults in her community. The Urban Extension 4-H specialist encouraged Zyien to take on a leadership role, something she had never done before. Despite her initial hesitation, Zyien accepted the challenge.

Zyien prepared diligently, learning how to teach others and practicing public speaking. On the day of the first session, she surprised everyone, including herself. She confidently guided adults through the intricacies of using drones in the workplace. Zyien’s confidence soared throughout several sessions. She soon became the face of the program, inspiring other youth to step out of their comfort zones. Her transformation was remarkable—the once shy girl became a capable leader and mentor.

Program Impact

Helga Maria Schmid, the secretary general of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, once said, “The digital world can either become an additional barrier for women and girls or an important tool for their empowerment.”

Zyien’s journey highlights the importance of providing opportunities for girls in tech. Programs like 4-H Tech Changemakers equip youth with valuable skills and empower them to take on leadership roles—breaking stereotypes and paving the way for a more inclusive future in technology. Girls like Zyien are proof that the potential for growth and leadership is limitless with the right support and opportunities.