By Jenelyn Russo     2/25/2021

Service and a heart for others have always been at the forefront for Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church parishioner Kayley Chan. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University High School sophomore recognized that many young children are spending more hours online than ever before. The use of devices for distance learning, combined with engaging friends through social media apps, now make screen time a large part of students’ daily routines.   

As a Girl Scout, Chan had earned her cyber security badge and learned all about the safety challenges that exist for young kids who spend extended periods of time online. She pursued her interest in the topic by attending a cyber security class last summer offered through Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) and was inspired to create a way to share the same information with elementary-aged students. 

“I thought that it was really important to share with children because a lot of them nowadays use electronic devices and are on social media, but they don’t know how to protect themselves,” says Chan. 

As a result, Chan created CyberSafetyFirst, an educational program that brings awareness to the issue of online safety for elementary school children. After raising more than $1,000 by selling used clothing online, the 15 year old took the information she had learned through the Girl Scouts and the summer course and developed a digital slide presentation that could be shared through virtual workshops. 

Chan enlisted the help of family and friends to spread the word about the CyberSafetyFirst program, which resulted in hosting three virtual workshops at LAUSD schools last fall. Additionally, several IUSD teachers have incorporated the program into their technology lessons. CyberSafetyFirst has already reached more than 200 students. 

Prior to the workshops, Chan sends the students copies of an eBook titled, “Sarah the Cyber Hero” by Emily Rauer. Additionally, every participant receives an activity book designed by Chan that features crossword puzzles and word search games tied to the material. 

Each workshop includes a pre-test and a post-test to gauge how much the students learn from the presentation. Chan has found that the students show a significant increase in their knowledge of cyber security and online safety after participating in the program, and she has received positive feedback for her efforts. 

Chan is currently working with the Girl Scouts of Orange County to bring the program to a wider number of elementary students and has already scheduled more virtual workshops for this April. She is hopeful in the future to be able to present the material at in-person events. 

The most challenging part of bringing her idea to life was getting the word out to schools while in the middle of a pandemic. But the process has helped Chan refine her leadership and communications skills, and her efforts have been rewarded through the earning her Girl Scout Gold Award. 

Chan is currently preparing to receive Confirmation at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton this spring and credits her faith for helping her to pursue her passions and reach others. 

“It’s really taught me a lot,” says Chan of her faith, “especially that I should use my gifts and talents to make a positive impact in the community.”