Arno & Timo, from learners to leaders, the Netherlands

ARNO: I want to help the next generation of coders because, like, I needed some help as well and just want to bring that forward.

SANNEKE: CoderDojo Netherlands is 10 years old this year. Started in Rotterdam in 2013 with just five Dojos in the country. Now there's nearly 100. CoderDojo is a place where children can learn how to code and program. It's– It's free, it's safe, it's fun.

Seeing the developments over the last 40 years in computing and programming, it's so important to not just have people that know what's going on or who can make stuff, but I'd like children to have an opportunity to find out what they like and where their talents are.

So we have two mentors, young men who came here as 12-year-old starting on their coding journey, and when they turned 18, they wanted to stay. They sort of naturally turned into mentors. I got them the T-shirt, and they're officially mentors now.

TIMO: We're friends since we were 8 years old, I think. Started with Arno because he brought me here, made me enthusiastic. So much fun people here with common interests1:15that I thought, "Well, why didn't I come earlier?"

ARNO: First time I attended a Dojo, I was 12 years old. My grandpa sent me to one. I was already doing some programming and he thought it would be a nice place for me. My proudest moment at CoderDojo must be getting in the local newspaper with a project we did. We had a balloon project, and we had a test flight. We, like, put the project under a drone. At CoderDojo, I'm now a mentor. Just help kids get started, answer their questions, figure stuff out. They're stuck, I can have a look.

SANNEKE: The community of mentors in the Netherlands is thriving because they are people who are excited about coding and want to get their knowledge across to young people. I think Arno and Timo can be a great example for other children who are growing up and attending Dojos what the possibilities are.

TIMO: My first time in mentoring was exciting, nervous. It was just a normal Dojo, but then me standing in the CoderDojo T-shirt and not behind the laptop any more.

ARNO: Well, I never really had a first session as a mentor, I think. Just kind of transitioned. As I got older, I started helping around more. At some point, I just got the shirt and was kind of official, but not much changed (laughs).

TIMO: Well, I think volunteering is important, because you're doing something for the community, in a city or in a village, supporting them in their journey in learning coding.

SANNEKE: Having children show what they've made and we're all applauding and they don't even realise what they've learned. The cheerfulness and seeing them grow is why we do it. It's only this year that I've realised what the impact is. People grow up with CoderDojo and getting their education in IT or tech and then getting jobs and helping others, and that's been brilliant to see.

ARNO: I'm studying IT in Haarlem. I'm in my second year now. In the future, I'll be expanding my coding knowledge. Yeah, of course, I'll stay with CoderDojo. (laughs)

If you want to volunteer at CoderDojo, just go for it. You don't really need that much experience. You can just learn there as well. It's really basic. The kids can learn it, so can you.