Parenting is a Journey
An Adventure of Discovery Not Only of our Children But of Ourselves as Well
Trying to close the gender gap in technology, the nonprofit organization Girls Who Code works to give girls a fast track to catching up. The organization has determined that in younger years, girls are interested in computing programs, but a huge drop-off occurs between the ages of 13 and 17. In one of the largest hiring industries, females need a place at the table.
Girls Who Code began in New York and is now in 42 states. Says founder Reshma Saujani, “When girls learn to code, they become change agents in their communities. Whether it’s a game to illustrate the experience of an undocumented immigrant or a website to provide free college prep, our girls create technology that makes the world a better place.”
Today, Girls Who Code alumnae are majoring in computer science at UC Berkeley, Stanford and SF State, in large part because of their involvement with the organization. So how can young girls get involved?
Girls sixth grade and above can join a local group or attend a summer immersion camp if they are a sophomore or junior in high school. A quick look through the website shows summer immersion camps at Pixar in Emeryville; at Adobe, Twitter and Square in San Francisco; and many more. Clubs are available at 118 locations throughout the Bay Area, including at Holy Names High School for Girls, Piedmont High School, American Indian Public High School in Oakland, as well as in pretty much every city in the East Bay, South Bay and north. All you need to do is enter your zip code into the GirlsWhoCode.com website to see the closest options.
Labyrinths dot the Bay Area
Not just a great David Bowie movie: Parents wonder how to instill a sense of the spiritual in their children when every moment seems filled with loud play or screen time. Introducing them to the age-old concept of the labyrinth may be one way to get started. A labyrinth is a spiral walkway that encourages meditation as one follows the twists. It’s suggested that before embarking on a labyrinth, the walker take a few breaths and center herself, then walk with purpose towards the center. The labyrinth’s lesson is just when you think you’re closest to the center, the path veers off ... but you reach your goal if you persevere. Labyrinths date back to the Middle Ages as a walking meditation.
Labyrinths dot the Bay Area. The most famous one is found within the walls of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco (itself worth a visit for its neo-Gothic architecture), but outdoor ones permit you to combine a hiking day or picnic with your labyrinth walk. In Oakland, visit several in the Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve (the Mazzariello Labyrinth is marked on park maps as “quarry pit”). In El Cerrito, one can be found after a brisk uphill hike at the Hillside Nature Area (trailhead near the recycling center on Schmidt Lane). Near San Francisco’s Ocean Beach, you can find a complex 11-circuit labyrinth by jumping on the Coastal Trail towards the Golden Gate Bridge from the parking lot at Point Lobos (for the USS San Francisco memorial). Go down the steps to the Mile Rock Beach; the labyrinth has spectacular views.
Grace North Church in Berkeley has an indoor labyrinth; on Jan. 27, walk it 6-7 p.m. with 97 candles lighting its path, along with live music from Winding Way, an acoustic world music group. Free. RSVP appreciated, but not required, at http://www.gracenorthchurch.net.
There’s some etiquette to sharing a labyrinth with others; Prevention magazine has a good roundup here: http://www.prevention.com/fitness/fitness-tips/labyrinth-walking.
And then, of course, end your day with a viewing of the Jim Henson film Labyrinth, because David Bowie’s hair and evil goblin pirate get-up may inspire their own reverent form of meditation.
Erika Mailman is a Northern California freelance writer. Reach her at Erikaeditor@cs.com.