Latest Entries...

NYC Haunts at New Directions! 

This summer, youth channeled the stories of yet another set of New York City "ghosts" through our signature NYC Haunts program -- this time, at New Directions Secondary School in the Bronx.


A multi-age, diverse group of elementary, middle, and high schoolers, along with adult educators collaborated to create a location-based game about local South Bronx history and issues using MIT's TaleBlazer software. Everyone rose to the challenge to complete the project in just one week.



After playing some example games and learning the elements of a game, game designers got right to work, listening intently to the stories of Global Kids staff member and former HS basketball player, Devin, who attended school on their campus a few years ago. They also conducted research about the history of the area through internet searches, community walks, and interviews with local residents. The students found out that the Bronx was plagued by arson in the 1970s, and it destroyed many homes. They learned about the efforts of young people to rebuild the community in the wake of the destruction. 




In the end, the winning game concept involved many of the researched elements: The player is Devin, a high school basketball star who is zapped back in time to the 1970s. Only a pair of magical Jordans can help him return to the year 2009 in order to play in the basketball championship. To find the shoes, he must help neighborhood people locate the items they need to rebuild the community after an arson.


Once the group settled on a core idea, youth split up into four teams to divide up the work. The art team created images for the characters and items. The storytelling team wrote and reviewed the text of each character. The investigator team determined the clues and riddles to give to the player within the game. The coding team figured out the logic of the game and programmed it. 




Everyone's hard work paid off. Give the game it a playtest the next time you are around 170th St and the Grand Concourse. It can be found if you download the TaleBlazer app and insert the code: gbosehd


Happy time travelling!



Special thanks to the Hive Learning Network, the New York Community Trust, and the Department of Youth and Community Development for their ongoing support of this program.


OLP at Global Kids is getting ready to kick off this year’s Summer NYC Haunts program at two participating middle school camps. We are excited for GK's young people to explore NYC's history through the creation of location-based games that take players on treks through two vibrant neighborhoods, Washington Heights and the South Bronx. The participating youth might choose to explore Native American history in the northern part of NYC, tales from the immigrants that have arrived in their neighborhoods from countries around the world, or any number of other local stories.

We are excited to see what the students will come up with. Recent play-tests during their after school programs showed us they are ready to dive in! Here are some photos:


Get ready for a haunted summer!cool

iDesign Student Conferences 

On two Fridays in June, the OLP team ran Grow a Game workshops at Hofstra University's iDesign Student Conferences to cap off and celebrate a year of hard work at Long Island-based after school game design clubs. Pia Steffesan Adelphi University Community Fellow working with GK OLP for the summer, provides her reflections from the field:


The activity was designed to assist students, as well as adults, with having a creative game idea that also brings attention to a global issue.



After choosing a global issue they were asked to start visualizing their game with drawings and magazine cutouts. The activity was a success in creating multiple new game ideas, teaching awareness about global issues, and new perspectives on them.


Here you can see the hardworking students:



Our events were held in conjunction with the Whitehouse's "Week of Making" initiative, celebrating "the innovation, ingenuity and creativity of Makers." Check out our listing on the Week of Making website.


The OLP Team and the iDesign Team are excited to welcome teachers and students from their program for the upcoming teacher and student conference to look deeper into the Games for Change aspect of game design.

GK Teams Score at Emoti-Con 

This past weekend at the youth digital media challenge, Emoti-Con, a whopping ten teams of youth representing eight Global Kids school sites showcased games and other projects they had spent the year or semester developing.


Beaming with pride, they spoke to judges and other passersby at the project fair about the elements of their games, their games' backstories and topics, the challenges that cropped up during the coding process, and the iterative cycle.


Photo by Neha Gautam.



The event exposed students to professionals in fields the youth were interested in, including art design, coding, game design, and business operation.


A user experience designer described his job as making sure that the company doesn't design products that people don't like and won't use. In response, 6th grader Joseph Cruz remarked, "Oh, like the Apple watch?"


Global Kids youth leaders from Academy for Health Careers walked away from the event with one of the coveted top 5 awards, Best Point of View, for their project "Squad Up: Finding Kathy," a geo-locative game that explores the life of a teen who must gather support for a friend in trouble, teaching players about the Convention on the Rights of the Child in the process.


Photo by Neha Gautam.

The youth at Bryant High School's game, "Life of a Queens Teen: Daniella's Journey" won an honorable mention, as did the Twine game "On the Run," produced by Playing for Keeps Citywide participants.


Photo by Neha Gautam.

Don't just take our word for it! The game designers at Bryant High School, working with trainer Neha Gautam, put together a narrated slide show of images from the awesome day:


Emoti-Con 2015 from NehaGautam on Vimeo.


Special thanks to all of the trainers involved in supporting youth through the design process and at Emoti-Con, and to the Hive Learning Network for putting this fabulous event together.


Why Global Kids Matters 

Why Global Kids Matters
When I joined Global Kids in 2011, I knew that it was an organization with impactful programs, providing a range of in-school, afterschool and summer programs, with a youth driven learning model that taps into students’ curiosity and prepares them with the skills and tools they need to make an impact. By integrating global awareness, digital media learning, peer-education, academic skill building, and college and career preparation, Global Kids enables underserved youth to explore critical issues facing the world and learn how these issues are relevant to their own lives. I had come to see a talk at Global Kids on the use of Open Sims to teach kids about human rights, and I immediately thought that it was a place that I wanted to keep in my radar. It became clear to me that it was a special organization, when I came for an interview for a Program Associate position and they told me that the students were part of their staff selection process. As part of that selection process, I came to do a workshop using Scratch and after the workshop, the students asked questions about my professional career, my goals as an educator, and why I wanted to be part of their lives. It was an impressive display of young people taking charge of selecting who they wanted to be part of their learning process.  Now, I really wanted the job. And I got it!
Global Kids, was highly collaborative, energetic, and placed the young people it served at the center of their work. I traveled to several sites around the city, getting to know a complex system of partnerships with schools and other cultural institutions, including the Hive Learning Network.
Later on, as I took on the role of the Associate Director of OLP, my goal was to continue creating programs that aligned with the mission of Global Kids, and develop projects that used technology and digital media in meaningful ways to a group of a diverse middle and high school students who come primarily from a Hispanic and African American background. It was not an easy task. I was always thinking about sustaining programs that were successful, but also creating new ones that would bring a new and interesting focus to the organization. I started using little bits for a workshop about natural disasters, and created the Hive Youth Meetups to bring youth from different organizations across the Hive NYC Learning Network to increase their awareness about the possibilities of collaborations and programs available to them. I was also interested in expanding programs to other networks, and worked with Hofstra University and Educational Development Center on the iDesign program, to bring game design, culturally relevant pedagogy, and developing computational thinking to after-school programs for middle schools in Long Island and New York City. 
During my time at Global Kids, I had the opportunity to work with an impressive group of people, like Sara Vogel, Joliz Cedeño, and Ryan Waingortin, part of the OLP team. We worked to brainstorm and develop workshops that were innovative and well designed. Through the  grants and professional development of Hive NYC Learning Network I also worked with people like Dixie Ching (NYU) and Rafi Santo (Indiana University) of Hive Research Lab, Erica Kermani (Eyebeam), Vee Bravo (Tribeca Film Institute), Marisa Jahn (Rev Studio), Zac Rudge, Ana Campos (Parks and Recreation), Rob DiRenzo (Digital Ready), Brian Cohen (Beam Center), etc. All of them professionals working with youth that were always thinking about how to innovate, inspire and create substantive programs. Of course, working with Leah Gilliam, Chris Lawrence, Lainie DeCoursy and Julia Vallera—all from the Mozilla/Hive Networks team— was also a highlight during my time at Global Kids. There were so many great, inspiring colleagues that I designed and collaborated with over the years that the list is too long to complete! If I miss you, it was an oversight, nothing else. 
I learned a lot from Barry Joseph (American Museum of Natural History) and Jack Martin (Providence Public Library), who were at the helm of OLP before me. 
As many of you know, I am moving out of New York City and join the Seattle Public Library as their Digital Media and Learning Manager. As anyone in our profession knows, when an opportunity comes along that is both personally and professionally attractive you have to rise to the occasion, so is the case for me with the position in Seattle. However, none of my professional development would be possible without the support I received here at Global Kids, especially from its Executive Director, Evie Hantzopoulos. I will always bring a little of GK with me. The work that they do in the fields of youth development, service learning, and international affairs education is not only important for the more than 1,300 youth reached in the after-school and in-school programs but also for professionals like me who find a calling to serve youth and communities around the world. It is for that reason and for many more that I ask you to continue supporting Global Kids, please take the time to make a donation at
Keep reaching out to them and forming the strong collaborations that make them unique and special. For questions regarding programs or other matters, please email evie (at)
GK All Day!