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How Moe Dafer and Code Ninjas Reopened to the Stouffville Community


When Moe Dafer was gifted a Commodore ViC- 20 computer by his parents at 13 years old, it began a long love affair with coding and technology. After moving to Canada in 2011 and seeing a gap in understanding among children surrounding the basic building blocks of technology, he knew that he wanted to work towards encouraging youth to see the creative possibilities of coding.

While navigating a series of lockdowns, the support of the Stouffville community kept Code Ninjas operating during the pandemic. This involved dropping the requisite materials off outside students’ homes to ensure they were able to participate in virtual learning. The centre is currently providing in-person learning while following COVID-19 protocols and had a successful summer of sold-out camps that kept students engaged and excited. These camps incorporated creative areas such as vlogging, design and moviemaking that reinforced the importance of tech in any avenue of learning. In other words, it taught students that coding is a necessary skill to maintain strong digital literacy in an increasingly tech-focused working environment.

Last month, Moe wanted to show his gratitude to the Stouffville community by holding the grand opening event that he was unable to host in 2020. He was thrilled to officially open his doors for Stouffville with a ribbon-cutting featuring Mayor Iain Lovatt, MPP Paul Calandra, Ward 6 Councillor Sue Sherban, and Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Karen Wootton. The event reintroduced Code Ninjas and its range of programming to the community with a series of demonstrations, tours, games and more.

To emphasize his commitment to the community where he and his family live and work, $10 of every new sign-up was donated directly to The Hummingbird Hub’s Youth Program. The Hummingbird Hub focuses on supporting youth in the Stouffville community by providing spaces for community-based organizations to run workshops and events specifically catering to them – a cause that is near and dear to Moe’s heart.

Part of Moe’s determination comes from ensuring youth have opportunities to push their education and potential further. Code Ninjas offers a sophisticated and self-paced training ground for youth to practice their coding skills and flex their brain muscles in a fun, safe and supportive environment. When the centre reopened for in-person learning, students and instructors (who were often post-secondary and high school students themselves) were able to connect more meaningfully and learn the curriculum together. The programs have a twopronged benefit for the instructors – they can practice their own coding and strengthen their technical skills, while improving their social skills and getting paid in the process.

For many, coding was once a concept limited to hobbyists and those with technical ability. To combat this dated perspective, programs at Code Ninjas are geared at normalizing coding and other advanced STEM concept such as robotics among youth. To parents, it’s a new avenue for learning that amplify what their children already learn in schools; to kids, it’s productive playtime. Students at Code Ninjas get to build their own games or toys that they can play with after, which provides a better idea of what goes into creating the gadgets and gizmos they interact with every day.

In Moe’s time as an entrepreneur, his positive attitude in the face of the year’s challenges has been a contributing factor to his success. While businesses are driven by revenue, he urges fellow small business owners to adapt to the needs of their community. Entrepreneurs who operate businesses in the communities where the live and work have an obligation to be their fellow community members. When times are rough, the first thought that should come to mind for any business owner is “How can I help others?” rather than “How much money am I going to lose?” because the former can lead to long-term rewards that mean more than revenue generation. The story behind his successful reopening is less about efficient business operations – rather, it’s a story about how a community rallies together to ensure no one gets left behind as they continue to grow in the face of adversity.

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