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SCENES shines a spotlight on youth around the world that are breaking down barriers and creating change. The character-driven short films will inspire and amaze, as these young change-makers tell their remarkable stories.
It is estimated that only a tiny percentage of the world’s population is multilingual. Antonio Garcia Vicente is one of them. The 15-year-old speaks two conventional languages and at least four computer programming languages. His advanced programming knowledge allows him to communicate with computers through a set of commands and codes.
“I found out about coding at an event held to teach boys and girls the basics of coding,” Antonio tells SCENES.
The Scratch Day event was organised by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Scratch is the world’s largest coding community for children that uses a coding language with a simple visual interface.
“It has coloured blocks that aren’t really lines of code. It helps you understand the basics of programming and to develop a bit of computational thinking,” says Antonio.
At the time, Antonio was six years old when he fell in love with programming. He joined the Young Coders Club at the University of Valladolid, where he could create projects and interact with other children with similar interests.
‘The possibilities are endless’
“The possibilities are endless. You can create from a game to a story, to a maths programme. That’s really what I find most attractive,” Antonio explains.
To date, Antonio has worked on over a hundred programming projects, including video games and mobile applications that involve robotics and artificial intelligence. His works often champion social awareness, environmental consciousness and education.
One of the projects he’s most proud of is a mobile application promoting his hometown, Villanubla.
“If you take a picture of any of the main places of my town, such as the church, the House of Culture, and the hermitage. The app recognises it with artificial intelligence, and it gives you information about the site, about opening hours, and the history,” Antonio explains.
Programming opens doors
While at the Young Coders Club, Antonio was selected to talk at a TEDx conference that covers Technology, Entertainment and Design.
“There had never been a participant as young as me in a talk of this kind. I was only eight years old. They could not find a microphone for my size,” Antonio recalls.
Once the logistics were ironed out, Antonio took the stage at the TEDx Youth event in Valladolid, Spain and wowed some 400 people in the audience.
“It was amazing to see and hear a boy on a stage with such an easy way to speak and transmit values and ideas,” says Belén Viloria. The TEDx ambassador explained that Antonio makes a big difference in his community through technology, education, and encouraging advancement.
“It was such a cool experience, and thanks to that, I have been able to do many other talks and cool things,” Antonio says.
Finding the right balance
While Antonio enjoys developing programmes, he notes that they can become addictive, especially when you are stuck on a code that does not work.
“When something like this happens to me, I am in class thinking about it. Then I go to football training, and I keep thinking about it. I say I could solve it this way, or I could solve it this other way. So it’s like you’re thinking about it all the time,” he says.
Fortunately, Antonio incorporates his passion for programming with other parts of his life, including his studies. He regards it as another extracurricular activity like playing football.
Although designing code can be time-consuming and complicated, the pain of the process is worth it for Antonio. “The feeling when you get it figured out, and you get the code working is very satisfying,” he says.
In today’s rapidly advancing digital world, it is safe to say that being a skilled programmer is a valuable asset. As someone who started coding at six years old, Antonio is well ahead of the curve. This 15-year-old views his programming projects as preparation for a future where everything is digitised.