Caring cousins: Local teens give back to community with free coding classes

Courtesy of Robert Beliveau
Robert Beliveau, standing, teaches a coding class for kids. The 15-year-old leads the free classes with his cousin, Nicholas Verzic, 13. Both Los Altos residents attend Khan Lab School in Mountain View.

Los Altos teens Robert Beliveau and Nicholas Verzic seem to embody the clich√© “Think globally, act locally.”

The cousins have worked together for several years to give back to their community, using their website as a means to publicize their service and inspire others.

From a young age, Beliveau, 13, and Verzic, 15, both said they had an interest in helping those less fortunate. Originally inspired by seeing homeless animals in the street, they set up lemonade and soda stands in 2009 (as featured in the Town Crier) to raise money for Humane Society Silicon Valley.

They have since moved from selling beverages to teaching coding classes. Starting with third-, fourth- and fifth-graders in 2016, the cousins now offer the free classes to all ages in Los Altos and Mountain View.

Similarly to helping others, Verzic said “coding came naturally,” and Beliveau echoed the sentiment. Their first coding class, held at the Los Altos main library, drew approximately 25 children.

Beliveau and Verzic, who attend Khan Lab School in downtown Mountain View, have led classes every few months since then.

“Our motto is ‘Help others help others,’” Verzic said. “We don’t want to just teach them how to do these things (code) – we want to give them the opportunity to help others.”

Both Beliveau and Verzic said they’ve felt themselves growing and maturing during the process.

“I’ve gained the mentality that you can help anyone and that you can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it,” Beliveau said.

He and Verzic added that they are thankful for the support they’ve received from their parents and coding students. While their parents initially created their website, the two have begun to play a much larger role in its development and design in recent years.

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