Girl Guides of Canada (GGC) is teaming up with BlackBerry, with the launch of a cybersecurity skills-based programming, Digital Defenders, for GGC’s 70,000 members. The program will include all levels: Sparks, Brownies, Guides, Pathfinders, and Rangers.
Designed to provide girls with the necessary skill-set to spark early interest in the cybersecurity industry, the Girl Guide-led program encourages participants to take a “how stuff works” approach to cybersecurity, giving them a robust and in-depth look at the topics through play and discovery-based learning.
For example, girls as young as 5 will learn the basics by making bracelets out of binary code. Older Girl Guides will have to fix a corrupted website to go on a camping trip and use their tech skills to get out of an escape room.
Completing a series of tasks will help the girls earn their digital defenders badge, which will feature BlackBerry’s logo — given the expertise the company provides.
This new programming is aimed at empowering girls as digital citizens while giving them access to invaluable hands-on knowledge that might not be available to them otherwise. Following age-appropriate content for each branch of GGC from Sparks (ages 5-6) to Rangers (ages 17-18), girls will learn:
- How computers, encryption and malware work
- How data travels
- How authentication works to protect information
- How pen testing and hacking work
- How cybersecurity creates layers of protection
- How patches and firewalls protect computers
- How machine learning is predicting and preventing cyber attacks
Jill Zelmanovits, CEO of Girl Guides Canada, said BlackBerry was a natural fit.
“At Girl Guides, we’re focused on empowering girls with the relevant skills that will help them soar,”
“Girls have told us they want to know more about how they can protect themselves, their devices and their information online so they’re prepared to navigate the digital world they live in and to learn about potential careers in technology. BlackBerry is an incredibly innovative cybersecurity brand and we’re thrilled to be working with them.”
The Digital Defenders activities aim to fuel girls’ interests in how cybersecurity technologies work, but also gives them opportunities to discover possible pathways to future careers and to connect with women mentors in the cybersecurity field.
Along the way, as with all Girl Guide programs, girls will build skills in critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, observation and teamwork. Girls who complete the programming will earn a Digital Defenders crest that they can proudly display to show off their newfound cyber-smarts.
Sarah Tatsis, VP of BlackBerry’s Advanced Tech Dev Labs, says the program will serve as a way to fill cybersecurity’s talent gap.
“As the frequency and sophistication of cyberattacks continues to grow, the need to be cyber savvy when it comes to things like staying safe online and protecting personal information has never been more important,”
“As a former Girl Guide myself, I know first-hand how adept the organisation is at fostering a passion and curiosity in girls that they continue to take with them throughout their lives. I’m confident that the program will spark interest in countless girls across the country, embedding a skill-set that will be extremely valuable in our increasingly connected world where top cybersecurity talent is both scarce and in high demand.”