April 27, 2014, 10:25 a.m.
Changemakers dinners at FutureShift Festival! http://www.futureshift.cc/

Ditch the stabilisers! It's time for Generation Z

Still basking in the glow of the civic kindness of @northfieldeco, we were met by pouring rain as we ventured onto the athletic track of Sutton Coldfield stadium. But this didn't deter Andy and the @bikenorthbrum team, nor did it deter the children for whom the challenge was far greater than getting soaked. It was ditching their stabilisers for the first time, in front of their parents, but perhaps most importantly, in front of their peers.

Of course, we were visiting because @bikenorthbrum were using fun & exciting ways to get children from a very young age to get healthy and fit. But we were yet to realise was that something far more transformational was about to take place. 

The children weren't just ditching their stabilisers, they were ditching their fears, and in many cases, ditching their parents for the first time (even if for just a lap around the track. What was fascinating was how they were negotiating the gazes of both their parents and their peers. 

They wanted to show their parents that they could ride without stabilisers, but they still needed the reassurance and encouragement. They wanted to show their peers that they too could ride on their own, but more importantly they wanted to be part of a shared experience of "growing up". 

There wasn't the competitiveness of trying to race round the track that the hormones inject into teenagers, nor was their sense of pride that prevents adults from "ditching their stabilisers" (and I don't mean  stabilisers on a bike).

When we talk about creative civic change, we come at it from a adult-centred perspective, and however open-minded we might be, we're still trying to break through the subconscious social codes that we've internalised ever since we took our first exams. This was clear as crystal when we met young people in preparation for the @futureshift_cc festival.

We aren't the next generation, the children on the bike are. It's time for Generation Z to show us how to ditch our social stabilisers.

So how about we support children to develop "social sweatshops", where they can develop their ventures with their creative spontaneity.

What support would they get from the adults? Well, we could sweat, blood and tears to deal with all the bureaucracy that adults have created for themselves - from setting up legal structures to accounting.

That might, just might, make us think twice about what's really important...and maybe soon it will be our turn to ditch the social stabilisers holding us back.

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