Kenya’s Marian Sharifa was among the winners at the finals of the 2023 Global IT Challenge for Youth with Disabilities (GITC 2023) hosted in Abu Dhabi, UAE, by leading electronics manufacturer, LG Electronics.
The five-day Challenge sought to strengthen the IT capabilities of youth with disabilities and bridge the digital divide. Ms. Sharifa was the co-winner of the esteemed Super Challenger award, together with Ethiopian Elias Bobe. Muhammad Naazir Danesh from Malaysia took the overall award.
This was the first time in four years that the competition was held offline, and it saw 461 youth with disabilities from 18 different countries compete in a total of six, diverse IT challenges.
The challenges included the two-part eTool challenge, a test of participants’ skill creating presentation slides and utilizing spreadsheets; the eLifeMap challenge, an assessment of one’s ability to conduct text and image searches online; the eContent challenge, an evaluation of video production and editing capabilities; and the eCreative challenge, which tasked entrants with coding a self-driving car program and developing an idea for a technology that improves quality of life for persons with disabilities.
Established in 2011 to help young people with disabilities become more proficient in information and communication technologies (ICT) and support them to develop the confidence and practical tools needed to fully engage in society, the 2023 GITC was hosted by LG Corporation, South Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare as well as the Government of Abu Dhabi, and organized by LG, Zayed Higher Organization, UAE and the GITC Organizing Committee.
To date, more than 5,000 youth with disabilities from 40 countries have taken part in GITC. The competition continues to serve as a springboard for youth with disabilities, with many former participants going on to careers in IT-related fields and other areas of business.
Historically, most GITC participants have come from countries within Asia, including South Korea, China, Vietnam and Thailand. This year, however, GITC grew in diversity, playing host to youth from countries in the Middle East and Africa, such as Ethiopia, Egypt and Kenya, for the first time.
During the event, LG introduced the contestants to its Universal UP Kit in a dedicated exhibition space next to the competition venue. The kit, unveiled for the first time at IFA 2023, is a collection of innovative home appliance accessories and add-ons designed to make usage easier for everyone, regardless of gender, age or disability. Those GITC competitors who experienced the Universal UP Kit in person were full of praise for LG’s inclusive, new solutions.
In addition, the company set up a photo zone that includes the Life’s Good brand promise and even distributed branded goods that encompass LG’s brand philosophy and core values. GITC was the prime event to show the meaning of Life’s Good, with all the participants working hard to complete their challenges, even when faced with difficult tasks. The company is hopeful that all GITC participants will continue to take on bold challenges and use optimism to overcome any challenges they come across in the future.
A responsible global corporate citizen, LG will continue to empower youth with disabilities around the world through supporting initiatives such as GITC. “GITC is the perfect platform for young people with disabilities seeking to communicate with the world through IT, transcending barriers in terms of ability, religion and nationality,” said Yoon Dae-sik, senior vice president of External Relations at LG Electronics. “We will continue to support youth with disabilities through GITC and encourage them to keep on pursuing their dreams.”