Challenge 59 has been recognized in HundrED's 2019 Global Collection, as one of the leading education innovations in the world. An innovation originating from the UK, Challenge 59 encourages students to use dance as a vehicle for embodied learning about health and wellbeing - physically, emotionally and socially, empowering participants and equipping teachers. They use film as a tool to amplify young voices and co-produce their ideas into 59 second films with a local health message. Children and teachers are then asked to consider how to share these within wider communities.
Jo Rhodes, Artistic Director & Producer at Challenge 59, explains what they have learned since the 2018 HundrED innovation summit and their plans for the future!
What does it mean for Challenge 59 to be recognised as a leading education innovator in the HundrED 2019 global collection?
Being recognised by HundrED was a huge surprise for us. We knew what we were doing was working locally but to suddenly be amongst other innovators who had already shown so much impact globally was incredible. That external and very visible recognition gave us the self-belief and motivation to push forward, start conversations and be bold and brave in our approach.
What are your biggest takeaways from the Summit?
#1 – HOW?
Saku Tuominen spoke a lot about the HOW! We had our ‘why’ and our ‘what’ but we’ve since questioned and challenged our thinking on how – our approach, our structure, our pedagogy, our resources (or lack of), our logistics, our people. Supercell gave a great presentation about their company structure – where power was shared and collaboration is truly at its heart! From very local to global…. Is this right for us? What was the essence of what we were doing and how could we share that globally? Is there a demand for that globally? How can we harness what already exits….something that another US innovator, Community Share does so well!
#2 – AGENCY
The Finnish Education Minister, Sanni Grahn-Laasonen, gave an inspiring talk on their beliefs and values in Finland. Teacher agency and trust in teachers was a theme and resonated with us as an organisation that believes in collaboration and the agency of young people to co-create their own learning, in a UK system that doesn’t lend itself to this teacher autonomy.
#3 – CONNECT
Saku also spoke about moving from silos to cooperation. We often feel siloed in the sectors we occupy and this message was fully embodied at the summit – a sense of a global community – being part of a much bigger whole – supporting each other as fellow innovators – not in competition as we sometimes find in our sector, but in collaboration, to effect change at scale.
How has HundrED summit and global recognition helped progress the impact of Challenge 59?
We have had a year of reflection, pivoting, debating, challenges! In all honesty, it has been hard, but then what journey that was ever worth it is easy?! Excuse the pun, but we like a challenge! To borrow a World Health Organisation anology, it’s been a year of planting seeds, cultivating multiple sector relationships and looking to grow in the future! We are in conversation with partners in two London boroughs, both with differing focus points, and we have become a Cultural Partner for the Royal Opera House Thurrock Trailblazer programme where we will be trialling our teacher development strand to explore more fully this teacher agency and collaboration.
The HundrED community has felt like a group that hold the space for you, connect you and look out for one another! Rae Snape (Headteacher, National Leader in Education and HundrED ambassador) invited the HundrED community to CambsEdFest where I got to speak with many teachers and Headteachers about their challenges as well as introducing them to our work. Also I touched base again with other innovators such as Chris at Chatta and Bryn at Tagtiv8 – sharing our experiences, learning and challenges. Rae is an unbelievable connector and brokered conversations for us in Cambridge. Alex Bell, Portland Education, nominated me to become a fellow of the RSA (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) and having attended my first event recently, no doubt this will open other doors and networks!
I have had the opportunity to share our work with multiple stakeholders including educators, council members, health professionals, academics, to highlight the barriers young people face in their localities. I was invited to a childhood obesity task force meeting where I would usually have kept quiet and listened. I suggested they could look at the digital curation of London’s public screens in order to get more children’s and communities voice shared as positive messages. No mean feat! If you don’t ask or take a risk, it won’t happen! The Durham Commission, researching the importance of creativity in education, invited me to join roundtable discussions and contribute our thoughts having seen our work. Their recommendations will be out in September this year. Challenge 59 has been used as a case study by academics, sharing it as an alternative pedagogical approach to learning with teachers in training and we have been invited to write for national publications such as for Physical Education Matters journal by the Association for Physical Education. Recently I was invited to speak at an International Conference on Developing Networks and Practices of Co-production with Young People in Manchester, presenting and also hearing from inspiring academics working with refugees, migrants and street children in Kenya and Uganda.
So what is next for Challenge 59?
Firstly, I have to learn to deal with and manage my own impatience!!! Rae offered some advice via an Arthur Ashe quote ‘Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can’. Our language and how we talk about what we do has been really important, particularly as we cross-sectors including arts, local government, health and education. Challenge 59 is a pedagogical framework whereby children and teachers collaborate to build their own content – as Rae supported me to put it so eloquently – ‘children co-constructing their own learning’. That learning looks different in localities and varying contexts - whether that is about well-belonging, identity, place, civic contribution, health, mental health etc. We are currently in partnership conversations, and in the Autumn we trial our teacher training extending to secondary, not just primary schools in Thurrock. We are very fortunate to now have a great board of trustees with us including Jessica Spencer-Keyse from HundrED. Together we are looking at developing bespoke evaluative research methods dependent upon context.
What we would like to happen next – for teachers and educators to undertake an introduction to Challenge 59 and use the programme autonomously across whole school communities. We would love to highlight 59 second films from different parts of the world that use the human body as a physical narrative, and film as a visual narrative to tell their own stories about what matters to them in their communities. Amplifying the youth voice amongst local stakeholders to effect change.
What would you say to innovators who are thinking about connecting to HundrED? Why should they be part of a global community for change?
Do it! From silos to cooperation and collaboration. The HundrED community I have had the pleasure to meet and talk to, have all been genuinely supportive, well informed, hugely inspiring and at the forefront of change. Willingly giving up their time and expertise – with no agenda except to improve children’s lives through education. Thank you HundrED!
Do you want to find out more about using Challenge 59 in your setting?
If so, visit Challenge 59 on the HundrED platform here or reach out: @Challenge_59