City IT project earns European honour

By on 07/06/2011 in News

Birmingham has been recognised as a continental leader for its work on improving IT literacy for people of all ages - through a city council-supported project.

The innovative Keeping IT in the Family scheme was named as the winner of a European Award of Excellence “City for Children” honour during a ceremony in Stuttgart last night (June 6).

Led by Digital Birmingham, the initiative was created in 2008 as a way of bridging the “digital divide” - getting children within some of the city's less affluent areas to help teach their older relatives about how to use computers and other modern technologies for everyday tasks.

Starting in Aston, children were given a toolkit for use at home -  a set of illustrated comic guides which takes the students and 'family pupils' through the basics of how to set up an email account, how to search the internet, security, shopping online and digital photography.

A second phase of the scheme then concentrated on topics relevant to community needs such as a healthy living module, addressing issues around diabetes and child obesity, promoting awareness around issues of health while in the context of developing IT skills.

In total, more than 4,000 children have been involved with the project, and early evaluation has shown it has made a positive impact in the city.

Cllr Paul Tilsley, Chair of the Digital Birmingham partnership, said: “We are always striving to do our best to improve the city's use and application of digital technologies, so it is a great boost to be recognised with an award like this.

“Our young people are our future, but that isn't to say that the adults of today can't embrace ICT in the way that children readily do.

“Keeping IT in the Family has proven itself to be an excellent initiative, passing knowledge across the generations in an amazingly successful way, which is easily transferable to other towns and cities in the UK and beyond.”

Examples of the project's success include an evaluation which showed that adults who learned from their younger relatives are now doing things such as shopping online for gifts and keeping in touch with relatives abroad by email - proving it has improved social, economic and employment opportunities for them.

In winning the award, Birmingham has beaten competition from across Europe including Munich (Germany) and Nis (Serbia).

Dr Wolfgang Schuster, Mayor of awards host city Stuttgart, said: “We hope that the award-winning examples today will set a new standard. We hope that they will encourage and inspire other cities to invest in their children's future.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

For images from the ceremony, kindly provided by Daimler AG, please visit the ceremony’s flickr feed here.

Digital Birmingham is a Birmingham City Council initiative, established in 2006 as the driving force to ensure that the benefits of digital and emerging technologies are available to all in the city. It is promoting the city’s reputation as a leading global digital city, a centre for investment and growth, as well as a great place to live, learn and work. Membership comprises more than 50 public, private and voluntary sector organisations.

Birmingham is a Smart 21 Community: Officially recognised as one of the world’s top 21 intelligent community by global thinktank, the Intelligent Community Forum.

For more information contact Kris Kowalewski on 0121 303 3621.

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