A Vancouver-based non-profit has launched a new tech-focused way of getting the community involved in their project.

AutismBC has launched the inaugural < / crack.the.code >, a new coding and programming event that will be hosted in Vancouver at the Hootsuite headquarters on March 10 and 11. The two days will be split up to focus on corporations and post-secondary institutions on March 10 with a hackathon, followed by local high schools on March 11 taking part in a problem-based coding competition.

The event is hosted by Vancouver’s tech darling Hootsuite and will look to raise funds to support the work AutismBC does, which involves providing education and training programs to workplaces and communities across the province. It is a registered non-profit and charity established in 1975 and led by parents that exists to help support individuals and families affected by autism.

“As Vancouver’s tech industry continues to grow and with coding now apart of the B.C. school curriculum, we see many individuals affected by autism excelling in STEM subjects,” says Andrew Pinfold, Director of Operations at AutismBC. “< / crack.the.code > will focus attention on the unique benefits that individuals with autism can bring to teams, in schools, workplaces and organizations and start new conversations around inclusion in the workplace to support the growing number of young adults with autism currently unemployed.”

The March 10 hackathon will run for 12 hours on March 10, with the theme being released the previous night. The March 11 event will see teams of four given 50 different problems and three hours to solve them.

In B.C. alone, an estimated 56,000 people have an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis—44,000 of those are adults. Global reports indicate that 60 per cent of adults with autism are unemployed, but willing and capable of work. This is why AutismBC places such an emphasis on increasing the awareness of autism within the workforce.

“We are pleased to be hosting < / crack.the.code > and look forward to welcoming teams from across the industry to Hootsuite for this year’s competition,” said Matt Handford, Hootsuite’s SVP of People. “We are proud to support AutismBC as they drive forward the importance of diversity and inclusion in workplaces, and welcome the opportunity to help neurotypical and neurodiverse young people considering future careers in technology to participate in this unique event.”

Three different kinds of teams can enter: university, high school and corporate, and registration ends on February 28. There is a fee to enter for each tier fo team and fundraising support packs are available.

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