When Jay’Aina “Jay Jay” Patton discovered coding, she was a 10-year-old girl who had just gotten her first laptop, learning while peering over her dad’s shoulder. “She was able to comprehend and just absorbed it like a little sponge,” recalls Jay Jay’s father, Antoine Patton. Fast forward to today, and not only has the now 16-year-old built a groundbreaking app, but she is also helping teach thousands of people of color to code.
The story of Jay Jay, her dad Antoine, and the organizations they lead, Unlock Academy and the Photo Patch Foundation, is the focus of the new short film The Coder. It is the first in a new docu-series called Generation Impact which celebrates young people improving their communities with technology. Directed by documentary filmmaker Samantha Knowles and executive produced by Steven Cantor and Stick Figure Productions, Generation Impact: The Coder is out now on HP’s digital hub, the Garage, and on YouTube.
In the film, we see the love, mutual support, and admiration unfold between Jay Jay and her dad as they work together toward their shared goals, and the inspiring story behind her drive to inspire other Black youth with technology.
Her coding work began when she was just 12 years old, shortly after her father launched the Photo Patch Foundation, a non profit organization that enables children to send photos and letters to parents who are incarcerated for free. Jay Jay noted that the site desperately needed a mobile app, and with her newly discovered coding skills, she built and designed one in just three months. “Jay Jay was always interested in learning science and math from the moment she stepped in school,” her mother, Gina Patton, says. “I think it’s because she loves a challenge.”