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PCSECHS "Girls Who Code" Earn State Recognition

PCSECHS "Girls Who Code" Earn State Recognition


Laurel Currie (PCSECHS teacher/club advisor), Cristal Gonzalez-Valdez (PCSECHS student), Wynn Whittington (PCSECHS principal), Eli Johnson (Pitt County Planning Department), Allison Swart (Pitt County Health Department) and Alice Keene (Pitt County Community Schools & Recreation)

The Pitt County Schools Early College High School "Girls Who Code" were recognized for their motivation to support communities to have equitable opportunities every day and everywhere for healthy eating and active living that lead to healthy behaviors.

The award was presented by the Eat Smart Move More North Carolina (ESMMNC) movement on Nov. 16 at the McKimmon Center at North Carolina State University. Accepting the award were (as pictured above) Laurel Currie, Cristal Gonzalez-Valdez, Wynn Whittington, Eli Johnson, Allison Swart and Alice Keene.

The overall mission of "Girls Who Code" is to close the gender gap in technology and to change the image of what a programmer looks like and does in their profession.

Working together, they built the "Parks and Facilities in Pitt County App" from start to finish using the BuildFire Platform. These students dedicated themselves to the mission and vision of ESMMNC through developing an app that would assist residents and visitors to connect with local parks, parks and recreation departments and recreation programs for all ages.

"We were humbled and honored to partner with the Pitt County Health Department, and Parks and Recreation to create this app," PCSECHS Principal Wynn Whittington said. "The work of our students and all involved produced a product that will enrich the lives of the residents of and visitors to Pitt County for years to come."

To determine important elements for other students to see on the Parks and Facilities App, the students first developed a survey. They then polled a number of students in their school and compiled the results, which became the basis for the app design. In sharing the importance of the app, students learned the need for and benefits of physical activity. Through this activity, they communicated with many of their peers and informed them about many of the parks and facilities available in their own county. Students were also given the opportunity to share information around health and wellness with their families and friends as they learned throughout the app building process.

In the process of building this app, these students had an opportunity to communicate directly with the technicians at BuildFire. They asked the questions and figured out the technical application on their computers, which was a once in a lifetime opportunity for them. Wherever they go next, they will most certainly be able to utilize these skills as well as have an excellent component to place on their resume.

Students made phone calls and personal visits to the parks and recreation departments across Pitt County. For most of the students, this was a new opportunity to speak with those department leaders and to learn more about the profession. By the end of the process, they felt that they had improved their communication skills as well as learning about the parks and recreation landscape.

Their commitment was even greater in that they persisted through the challenges of COVID and continued working diligently to reach their goal. When safe, they spent holidays and Saturdays working on the app. Funding for the app and student assistance was provided by a Walkability Grant through the Pitt County Public Health Department. The app is available for free on Google Play Store and Apple App Store as Parks & Facilities in Pitt County.