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Girl Guides of Canada and BlackBerry Announce Success of Joint Cybersecurity Education Program

To mark International Women’s Day, Girl Guides of Canada-Guides du Canada (GGC) and BlackBerry® today announced the success of their joint cybersecurity skills-based program, with more than 5,600 GGC members across the country earning Digital Defenders crests; proof of their newfound cyber-smarts.

Announced in November 2019 and designed to provide girls with the necessary skill-set to spark early interest in the cybersecurity industry, the Girl Guide-led program encouraged 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.  

In addition to the more than 5,600 girls who were awarded with GGC’s first ever cybersecurity crest, over the course of the year-long partnership, Girl Guides tackled nearly 20,000 different activities – both online and in-person as part of the program.

Through the program, girls (from the ages of 5 – 18) had the chance to dive into things like how computers work, how data travels, what hacking is all about, and how cybersecurity creates layers of protection. From solving puzzles as part of a cybersecurity-inspired escape room, completing a paint-based colour mixing activity to understand encryption, playing tag-based games to explore how different types of malware can infect your computer and much more, Sparks, Brownies, Guides, Pathfinders, and Rangers across the country worked to complete a set number of activities and modules that taught them various cybersecurity skills.

“We’re thrilled with the program’s results and the fact that so many girls saw value in becoming cybersecurity savvy while learning about the consequences and dangers of unsafe online behaviors that could potentially put them, their device or their personal information at risk,” said Sarah Tatsis, VP, Advanced Technology Development Labs, BlackBerry. “The Digital Defenders program has allowed girls to develop critical cybersecurity skills – of particular importance right now as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced them to participate in countless virtual activities and extended periods of remote learning. With the cybersecurity industry facing a significant talent – and gender gap – a big part of the program’s aim was to ‘spark’ cybersecurity interest at a young age and I’m confident that many now see how interesting and valuable these foundational skills are and that there are many career opportunities out there in which they can make a difference with their newfound cyber-smarts.”

"At Girl Guides of Canada, we’ve always empowered girls with the necessary skills they need to excel,” said Jill Zelmanovits, CEO, GGC. “We’re thrilled that the program was so well received and has become even more relevant for girls today as they navigate the current tech landscape and are emersed in more extended periods of online learning due to current pandemic protocols. Programs like Digital Defenders that encourage girls to dive in, ask curious questions, problem-solve and explore how technology works serve as an important incubator to foster girls’ confidence that technology can be a very rewarding career path.”

“I learned a lot about cybersecurity through the Digital Defenders program,” said Victoria Huk, an Ontario Ranger. “The information was much more current and detailed than what I would have learned in school. Most of the information we get in school revolves around not talking to strangers online, and we don’t learn much about cybersecurity. I liked that Digital Defenders included tips that are practical for protecting yourself, such as the importance of creating a strong password and updating it. Overall, I thought it was a great program that was current and engaging.”

Learn more about the GGC and BlackBerry “Digital Defenders” program.

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