Young Coding Ambassador
944. Femi Owolade-Coombes
Femi Owolade-Coombes, from South London, is a talented 12-year-old coder who set up the annual ‘South London Raspberry Jam’ event to widen access to computing for young people.
Diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome at the age of seven, Femi was determined to share his passion for coding with other young people, particularly those with autism or Tourette’s syndrome. With support from his mother Grace and coding volunteer Marc Grossman, he set up the ‘South London Raspberry Jam’ event to create an inclusive environment where young people can learn digital skills.
Femi has provided workshops to over 1,000 young people, including engaging over 220 underprivileged young people in Bangladesh on a trip in 2017, financed by his own successful crowdfunding campaign. He has also given talks at major tech conferences such as ‘MozFest’ and ‘Red Hat Summit’, and was one of 20 recipients from across the world to receive ‘The Diana Award’ in 2017 from TRH Duke of Cambridge and Duke of Sussex. Femi is now crowdfunding to establish a regular monthly outreach programme with support from industry-leaders for young people from underrepresented backgrounds to improve digital inclusion.
In a personal letter to Femi, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“Through your passion for coding, you have created events and workshops which are benefitting thousands of young people. You are inspiring people from all walks of life to have fun learning new computing and web design skills which will help them in their future careers.”
Ellie Reeves, MP for Lewisham West and Penge, said:
“I had the pleasure of meeting Femi last year when he was recognised by The Diana Award for his efforts in setting up the ‘South London Raspberry Jam’ and him encouraging more young people to take up coding. He struck me as an extremely engaged and devoted young man who was keen on helping others and I am pleased to see that he has been further recognised for all his hard work.”
“I’m so proud to be awarded the Prime Minister’s Points of Light Award. I’m looking forward to sharing the news with my coding community and my school, Whitgift School. I hope that it inspires other young people to become young ambassadors and see how, with a ‘can do’ attitude and a sense of community, we can achieve so much together. I’ve run coding workshops for hundreds of young people both here and abroad, and now want to help develop an inclusive community and network of young coders – so we can collaborate and grow together.”