Posted by Keith Loo
Open Platforms Lead - Microsoft Canada

Between after-school and dinnertime, there are many opportunities for children and youth to truly engage in their communities, particularly through quality after-school programs. The challenge, however, is not so much whether these recreational and education activities exist, but rather the degree of awareness and accessibility.

The Peel Children and Youth Initiative (PCYI) is helping to solve this challenge with their new Play in Peel recreation app, makes it exceptionally easy for their community members to search for any nearby activities, from arts and cooking to basketball leagues. Who would want to miss “Robotics for Mini Engineers”!?

Made possible by the open data repositories of the cities of Mississauga and Brampton in Ontario and the ubiquity of the Internet, PCYI, Microsoft Canada, and Web Nodes teamed up to bring after-school programming to the forefront of the youth community. The web app uses open source technologies such as jQuery, Knockout, and MongoDB on Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud platform.

It’s important that children and youth are provided with an enriching environment of fun and engaging activities outside of school. Without accessibility to local recreation and activities, many are on their own, opting for long durations watching television or using the computer (even this PC agrees there’s a healthy screen time limit).

For more on this great example of how app-building can translate into community-building, please check out the Make Web Not War blog.