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  • Writer's pictureBeth Nunn

Hooray for Hack Day!

Updated: Jan 12, 2023

The culmination of this part of our Into the Mix Project was our Hack Day back in December 2022! It was a busy, high-energy day full of activity, so we wanted Caroline to tell you all about in this week's blog.

This project is in it's second year and has been working with three schools across the region. Students at all three schools have been involved in the final part of their Into the Mix programme which was to work on a social action project. The students had all come up with a variety of ideas which all linked to the wellbeing theme we had encouraged throughout.

The final choices made by the young people in each school were:

All Saints High School – Bee Kind

Hyde – Stop Bullying

Rayner Stephens – Helping Homeless

They all worked on their social action projects in school during their PIE sessions, but they knew this was leading up to the Hack Day on December 6th.

The day dawned and everyone was excited – staff were at MMU in the Brooks Building setting everything up and waiting with bated breath on the arrival of the students. When they arrived, it was fantastic to see the looks on their faces as they entered a university building for the first time ever for the majority of the students.

We had a welcome meeting where the day’s events were explained. They were welcomed by Sophie Harris and Karen Duffy from MMU who kindly supported our day there. Then the day began in earnest! Students had been pre-assigned roles by Antony and Caroline, so they knew what they were doing on the day and this was based on their interests and strengths.

The podcast crew had to shoot off first as time was of the essence if they were to get their training in as well as create anything. The rest were then organised into 2 main areas – the digital space where the photographers/videographers and social media gurus were based.

The other group were in the ‘merch’ room creating all manner of merchandise to promote their project.

Each of the small groups received a mini masterclass from the variety of experts who had given their time and expertise to help us out:

  • Vic (MicMedia) gave a podcast masterclass and then worked with the students all day to create a podcast.

  • Jan from Saz Media gave photography masterclasses to the students and we also had Ana and Matthew from People on Demand @ Sharp Futures, and Megan & Isabel from Juice Academy helping with the social media.

  • Kirsty Galloway and Rachel Boyd supported students with videography and general digital skills development.

  • Meanwhile in the merch room – t-shirts and tote bags were being designed supported by various volunteers from local businesses and metal key rings were being made with Jen Samani .

  • There were posters and bracelets being designed ready for the presentation, supported by Naomi Timperley.

  • Each group wrote and created a song to go with their campaign supported by our guitar teacher Lee Royle.

  • Numerous other people helped out in various ways on the day as well!

Whilst all this was going on all the students and their staff got a chance to go on a university tour supported by the MMU student ambassadors. It really was a hive of activity with students really focussed on their projects and creating some amazing resources.

There were also a group of students from each school who possibly had the most difficult role of all – project management! They had to try and keep a check on everything that was going on and ensure all bases were covered!

We had a pizza lunch which went down really well but everyone was so busy it was very much a working lunch as all their energy was aimed towards their final presentations. After lunch the students went to three different areas with their school group where everything had to be brought together and final preparations were made for their presentations. They had spent the morning working on these presentation with the help of Bernadette McKnight who helped guide the students through how to develop and present effectively. This is where they had to bring everything they had been working on not only on that day together but also during the Autumn term in PIE sessions at school.

The clock struck 2 and it was presentation time. They were amazing!! They not only had to present to all their peers but also other schools and staff and in a very large lecture theatre.

Most of the staff had said they would have found that daunting but not the young people.

Hyde went first, followed by Rayner Stephens and All Saints. They included the research into their chosen issue and why they had chosen it as well as why it was so important to them. They included their song (which they had only done on the day). Their presentations showing on the big screen showed some of the photography, videography and social media posts they had been creating and putting out during the day. Vic was even able to play a short clip of each podcast too. They modelled their ‘merch’ – t-shirts, tote bags, key rings, bracelets and posters used during the presentation too. They were all absolutely brilliant.

To watch students who have grown in confidence so much during their time working with us take part in that presentation on that stage in a huge lecture theatre was just wonderful.

We could not be prouder of the students and it was a really special day to see all their hard work come together as well as all to be in one place working together – something we have not been able to do for quite some time.

Our founder Beth had this to say:

The hack day was a culmination of two years worth of work by not just the students, but by the team at PIE, school staff, staff supporting the day at MMU (special thanks to Karen Duffy and Peter Riley for providing the space and the refreshments on the day) as well as numerous other supporters of both the hack day and the Into the Mix project. I have to admit I had a tear in my eye on more than one occasion during the day – this day represented the return to full normality for us after three difficult years during Covid, as well as finally seeing something we thought up in December 2019 finally come to life. I am so proud of the work the students completed throughout the project which was showcased on the day, and hope that they will take their learning (and hopefully their interest and engagement in Social Action) with them throughout and beyond the rest of their high school careers. Special thanks to Sarah Barton and the Co-Op Foundation for not only funding this project, but for coming along on the day to see the project in action.

Here are a few comments from those who attended and supported on the day:

  • Seeing the content 'come to life' has been amazing. The hard work from the past few months is excellent and a real credit to both the students and Caroline.

  • It was my first school trip and it was really fun.

  • I enjoyed creating the video content and helping the students edit their video.

  • My stand-out moment was making the podcast - I have never done anything like this before.

  • It was special being able to show our own creativity in writing etc. and speaking to new people.

  • My favourite part was exploring the different activities in the creative room.

  • I enjoyed making key rings because I now have something to remind me of today.

  • I loved seeing the presentations and seeing how everything pulled together.

  • I got to create a campaign!

A massive well done to everyone involved in this busy and productive day!

You can listen to the podcasts made on the day here:

Rayner Stephens - Helping Homeless

Hyde - Stop Bullying

All Saints - Bee Kind

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