A Leapfrog Co-Design Taster Session for Young People

Dee Hennessy writes about the co-design taster session she facilitated for a group of young people as part of the Leapfrog Project

Twelve unsure, and in some cases very vocal, young peo­ple came together for the first time on their jour­ney towards becom­ing Leapfrog co-designers.This was a par­tic­u­larly hard to reach con­stituency we wanted to work with, and as a result they didn’t imme­di­ately grasp or trust what was about to take place or what it might lead to, and they made their feel­ings about this very clearly heard.

Dur­ing this two-hour taster ses­sion the approach was to demon­strate the value of their con­tri­bu­tions by engag­ing them in co-design by stealth; gen­tly ambush­ing them and then con­grat­u­lat­ing them on what they had achieved. We needed to build their con­fi­dence by valu­ing and lis­ten­ing to them but we also wanted to begin the process of gen­er­at­ing co-design out­puts. Chal­leng­ing for them and us.

The group began by defin­ing how they wanted this ses­sion and the sub­se­quent res­i­den­tial to look and feel in terms of struc­ture and mood: they wanted to be active, to engage in team chal­lenges and to get tan­gi­ble rewards, to work in small groups and not to write too much – if at all. They wanted a bal­ance of quiet and loud activ­i­ties, changes of seats and scenery and all this to be punc­tu­ated by breaks, snacks, ice-cream and entertainment.

A team chal­lenge fol­lowed, with four teams engaged in devel­op­ing ideas for a food com­mer­cial tar­geted at chil­dren using foods that would be famil­iar, but fun to add healthy value to. The brief was to com­bine these foods in new ways to look great, be ‘a bit healthy’ and make the audi­ence want to eat them. Work­ing with the key ingre­di­ents of fruit; fruit juices and low calo­rie fizzy drinks; frozen yoghurts and sor­bets; (inter­preted as slush puppy) and melted choco­late, all four teams exer­cised their cre­ative flair with one re-imagining the pack­ag­ing of fizzy drinks in pouches that also served as hand warm­ers when empty and acti­vated through snapping!

The ele­ments and sequenc­ing of the res­i­den­tial sec­tion of the pro­gramme were then co-operatively deter­mined and their views sought on the char­ac­ter­is­tics that should define the selec­tion of par­tic­i­pants. Finally each young per­son was given both a tick and a cross to choose how to sig­nify their answer to the ques­tion “Was this morn­ing good or bad?”

We meet up with this ani­mated group again in mid-November, to develop their con­fi­dence and these con­nec­tions fur­ther, and no doubt to be held to account for what they have specified!