Pascal Siakam to help Toronto kids learn to code with new training program

Pascal Siakam

Toronto Raptors star Pascal Siakam’s PS43 Foundation has launched a new youth-based initiative designed to address the digital divide in Toronto.

Coding for Champions, which was announced Friday during Siakam’s 27th birthday, is the not-for-profit’s first Canadian initiative.

Participating students will be equipped with laptops, which they will be allowed to keep after the program is complete.

Funded by a six-figure donation and supported by Penny Appeal Canada, the free 10-week program aims to provide students at two Toronto schools with information technology and website building skills. Participating students will be equipped with laptops, which they will be allowed to keep after the program is complete.

“As a child, I didn’t think I could accomplish what I have today,” said Siakam. “My father was passionate about education and my parents put me in positions to be successful by providing me access to education and sport in my home country of Cameroon, a place where such opportunities are limited and hard to come by.”

“I want to do the same for kids in Toronto and encourage them to dream big no matter what limits they face,” the Raptors forward added, expressing his love for the city and desire to drive change during COVID-19, “when the gap in accessibility has become even more apparent.”

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Coding for Champions will serve 60 sixth to eighth grade students at two Toronto schools, Queen Victoria Public School and Parkdale Junior and Senior Public School. Participating students will receive a laptop, backpack, program hoodie, and other required supplies, as well as a personal note from Siakam.

The program, which aims to prepare students to pursue a career in coding, is set to run between April and June 2021. Students will have the chance to apply their learning by creating web pages for the PS43 Foundation’s website.

The PS43 Foundation is focused on serving children through education. Coding for Champions seeks to increase access to digital literacy and coding education by addressing barriers that include a lack of devices and financial constraints.

Siakam, also known as “Spicy P,” played an integral role in the Raptors’ 2019 championship run. Through 41 games this season, he is averaging 20 points, seven rebounds, and five assists per game.

Photo by Chensiyuan via Wikimedia Commons

Josh Scott

Josh Scott

Josh is a BetaKit staff writer who loves to tell Canadian business and tech stories. His coverage is more complete than his moustache.