Yes Ball Games Hackathon: a pocket calculator and aluminium foil getting people active


How can a pocket calculator and a roll of aluminum foil get more people active?

I didn’t know either until I saw the results from the DigiLabs ‘Yes Ball Games’ Hackathon, where young people from Barking and Dagenham came together to take back their neighbourhood streets for positive, active recreation.

A hackathon invites a group to come together and collaborate in problem solving for their community, while that often results in digital solutions, it does not have to involve technology.

The great thing about the results of this hackathon was that the solutions included digital software and hardware and non-digital regeneration and I hope to work with the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham to move some of these closer to realisation.

Idea 1: Greenspace

Did you see the female MPs who were told off for playing football in the House of Parliament the other day? Greenspace, the winning idea from the Hackathon might offer a solution.

A number of areas in London have worked to remove ‘No Ball Games’ signs but this app goes a step further to challenge that culture and encourage behavioural change by creating an invitation to use those spaces for positive activity.

Greenspace allows people to discover open spaces nearby, book the spaces or join others to get involved in a jumpers for goalposts game, and rate the space after use.

A platform that allows ‘No Ball Game’ areas to be transformed into areas where people can have fun, be educated and host activities in.

All this was done by a group aged 14 to 17 and over the weekend they produced a demo app here, and since the hackathon, one of the young people has been teaching themselves to build this into an iOS app.

Idea 2: Outdoor Games Park

Another group looked at the outdoor gyms, like those built by our partners The Great Outdoor Gym Company, and ran with that idea.

They looked at those ‘No Ball Games’ spaces and thought what else could they do? Outdoor Games Park imagined filling those spaces with a mini trampoline levelled with the flat ground, a climbing frame with a set of monkey bars with a seated zipwire and net, and finally a twister game on the floor.

The great news is that in Barking and Dagenham, there is a movement called Open Corners, lead by Every one Every day, a group that empowers people to make their ideas come to life.

Idea 3: Knock The Block

The final idea demonstrated the ingenious creativity that can be unleashed in an event like this and reveals the answer to the conundrum I posed earlier – Knock The Block.

After bringing back kitchen foil, skewers, and an office calculator from a local pound store, they re-engineered the calculator and create a game you can play against a wall with a soft-ball. See their video below.

“Curiosity, frugality, and easy play requiring less prerequisite skills”, commented Seun Oshinaike of Digilab.

This was the third hackathon held by Digilab, after the social cohesion hackathon, and the gender equality hackathon that produced NOYO on the app store and play store.

London Sport and the Sport Tech Hub were very happy to support this and thankful to the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham and Nisha Valand for their financial contributions to make this happen.

If you’d like advice on how to hold your own hackathon, contact your London Sport Relationship Manager.


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