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Dallas Entrepreneur Announces STEM Summer Camp For Youth

Mahiri Takai’s AODI KIDS will give 40 students access to interactive education and programming.

Mahiri Takai (c) and participants at AODI Youth programming
Mahiri Takai (c) and participants at AODI Youth programming // Photo courtesy

Dallas-based entrepreneur Mahiri Takai wants to inspire youth to dream big at the AODI KIDS Summer Youth Camp. The six-week day camp will give 40 students, ages 5 to 18, the opportunity to explore the world of STEM through interactive education and programming.

The camp is an extension of Takai’s work as a social media and branding strategist through his company, Art Of Digital Influence (AODI). The company teaches entrepreneurs how to harness the power of social media and technology to expand their small businesses. His latest strategy is to help youth open the doors to new opportunities.

“AODI Kids is my vision to help rehabilitate children in District 7 to help motivate them and incorporate new understandings in robotics, coding, streaming, and financial wealth,” he told Texas Metro News. 

Historically, African American youth and youth of color are underrepresented throughout all levels of STEM — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — from undergraduate to the workplace. African Americans represent 13% of the total population, but only 6% of STEM-related fields. 

Takai believes that opening students’ eyes to new types of educational activities while in grammar and high school can help level the playing field. 

AODI has previously hosted summer sessions for youth, but not centered on STEM. This year’s programming will include robotics building, coding and programming activities, as well as photography, arts and crafts, performing arts, gaming, and YouTube and video training.

Takai revealed the inspiration for the camp was also borne out of a personal tragedy. “A couple of years ago, my father was murdered,” he said. “I realized that if those kids that murdered my father were in a summer program, my dad would still be alive.”

A strong conclusion, but one grounded in building school-to-STEM pipelines instead of school-to-prison pipelines.

“I created the program as an acknowledgement that there is more for us out there if we can equip ourselves,” Takai explained. “If we are facilitating these types of programs and art forms, then our kids can see that they can learn, they can enjoy what they are learning, and they can grasp more of what they want to do in their world and their lives. My vision is to rehabilitate the mindsets of children in those certain districts that are left by the wayside.”

The AODI KIDS Summer Youth Camp will run July 3 to August 11, weekdays from 8:30am 3:30pm. Each youth participant will receive a supply kit for the program, including canvas, robotics, t-shirt, graphic design software, and more, along with  breakfast/lunch/snack each day.

Registration is open through June 30 or until filled. AODI is currently running a fundraiser to help provide youth scholarships. For more information, visit aodinow.com/youthsummercamp.

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Stephenetta (isis) Harmon is a Black beauty culturist and founder of Sadiaa Black Beauty Guide, the premier directory for Black-owned beauty brands. She previously served as digital media director for Hype Hair and editor-in-chief for the MN Spokesman-Recorder. She builds platforms to celebrate the power, impact, and business of Black beauty.

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