YouthSpark is Engaging Young Minds through Technology at Mano Amiga Academy

YouthSpark is Engaging Young Minds through Technology at Mano Amiga Academy

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By Cheryll Ann Selda, Citizenship Specialist, Microsoft Philippines

On 7 August, our Small and Midmarket Solutions and Partners (SMS&P) team, together with Director, Diana Tibbs, held our best Financial Year Kick-off Activity at Mano Amiga AcademyThrough our YouthSpark programme, Microsoft is supporting Mano Amiga Academy to help them make a real impact in their local communities.

The Mano Amiga Academy is part of a network of over 30 Mano Amiga schools across seven countries, with a shared mission of providing education and development services tailored to the needs of local communities. In Taguig City, the Academy works with the underprivileged, serving students from the most deprived sections of the community. I have to interject with pride here that Lynn Pinugu, who founded the Academy in the Philippines, is an alumna member of Microsoft’s Innovate for Good programme.

For the one-day volunteering activity, the organisation and our team decided that it would be most useful for us to engage with the Grade Four students in play activities. We brought our personal devices, including Microsoft Kinect and tablets, for them to have a go. It was quite a sight to have over 30 adults teaching digital games on a work day.

It isn’t every day that the children get a chance to try their hands on the latest technologies and gadgets, if at all. Being able to experience the devices allowed the children to understand how to use the technology and the ways in which technology can serve them. Hopefully, this would be a useful step for them in learning ‘vital 21st century skills’ and content.

We had our share of learning to do as well. Diana remarked, “Seeing how excited the children were made me realise I have been taking technology and gadgets for granted. I am more aware now how digital access is such a privilege.”

Joel Garcia, Server and Tools Business Group Lead, Microsoft Philippines, commented, “I don’t know who was more immersed in the experience — the children or me cheering them on when we were playing our games!”


Joel Garcia, Server and Tools Business Group Lead, Microsoft Philippines, playing digital games with the students of Mano Amiga Academy, Taguig City

Connecting with the children at Mano Amiga Academy represents a key step towards Diana’s goal of inculcating a ‘Culture of Service’ within SMS&P. Diana shared, “We hope to put in place a ‘Culture of Sharing’, with ‘Service’ forming the core of our efforts.

Our team plans to repeat this event at least once a year, and will also pursue other volunteering opportunities throughout the year. We are also looking at how we can provide capacity-building support for the academy. I’m very excited by these plans, for they show that technology can contribute to empowerment, especially when it comes with a human touch. 

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