Event Rundown – Solid Mob Ballina February 2015, August 2016
The client: The Solid Mob
The Solid Mob is a community-based organisation run through the Bullinah Aboriginal Health Service in Ballina on the Northern Rivers area of NSW. In a nutshell their mandate is to help promote healthy lifestyle choices to young people in the region particularly focusing on reducing the numbers of kids smoking cigarettes!
What they do
Their amazing team of influential and inspiring aboriginal elders were looking for new ways to go to schools and engage with the kids in the area. Previous undertakings including sports days, rap lessons/contests and hip hop lessons/sessions but they wanted a new method of engaging the students that had a stronger focus on the main target message that could be delivered in a fun way.
How they found us
Jodie from Solid Mob contacted us after hearing about a recent program Great Race had created and facilitated at Southern Cross University a few towns away in Lismore and could see the potential in taking this ideas and tailoring it to meet their new goals.
The brief was to create a custom Amazing Race ‘template’ that could be taken into any school in the region and replicated and ultimately to have their staff trained up on how to prepare, facilitate and host. It was to be called the “Amazing Race To Happy”.
The Southern Cross University event that prompted Jodie to contact us was a custom-designed Amazing Race around their campus as an interactive game to introduce prospective students to what the university could offer from a social and educational point of view. It was a big project to work on but it was a game designed to be ran around the exact same location every time.
Challenges we overcame
The biggest obstacle with Solid Mob’s project was that not only was it to be fun challenges all highlighting healthy lifestyle choices but then could be taken into any number of different schools using their grounds and facilities to pull it off! Essentially this game needed to be a carbon Amazing Race template that can be picked up and put down in every school imaginable!
The design of the games and challenges
First problem to tackle was the design of the games challenges; making sure they were educationally on-point but still fun. Solid Mob provided a brief of the main key points that each of our checkpoints needed to focus on – smoking cessation, nutrition, harmful substances, mindfulness and happiness, chronic disease, leadership and importance of accessing health services.
It was at this moment we realised the enormity of this project – we needed to make chronic disease fun…
We set to familiarising ourselves with the mountains of literature and statistics that had been provided and in time started to smash out brilliant little games, may inspired from our own arsenal of games we use on a regular basis but still we were making scary fun!
Macular Degeneration Game
Macular Degeneration is an horrific disease that slowly erodes your eyesight particularly brought on by smoking.
- We got our hands on pairs of goggles that replicate the effects of living with Macular Degeneration. In their teams, participants would have to navigate an obstacle course wearing the goggles to then sift through a large bin full of clothes to find their teams ridiculous uniform/outfit.
- One by one they would struggle to find clothes before ultimately watching a teammate try and dress themselves with their eyesight so inhibited by a disease largely (not solely) avoidable by choosing not to smoke.
- The playing of the game is great fun but the message is brought home through the follow up.
Nutrition Fact Based Challenges
With regards to Nutrition making healthy choices is easy when you know the harsh truth.
- We created a set of large boards that images of popular drinks with young people, things like Coke, Flavoured Milk and Sports Drinks and then these drinks are to be matched with cards with the sugar cubes.
- These cards saw teams trying to correctly identify exactly how much sugar is in each of their favourites.
- The game element was excellent as you could win bonus points for correctly labelling each drink on your first attempt, this rarely happened but also opened conversation and conjecture with participants as they fought over what drinks they thought were healthier or not.
The project then starts to come to life when you see these simple ideas manifest into real games born purely out of our heads – they were fun and educational.
Creating the template of the games & challenges
The next goal was then creating the template – what collateral/paraphernalia would be given to complete the game?
This is where the design skills of one of our Games Masters, Samm came into the throw. She created an easy to read, easy to edit A3 paper template with a simple Cartesian coordinate system to be filled in to locate the checkpoint challenges.
This then simply required the team at Solid Mob to do a reccy prior to the day to source potential locations, acquire a site map of the school (something all schools already have) and then plot the game! The templates and grids were all part of the delivery package provided.
Approaching the end of the preparation stage
We could see the project completion in sight but around every corner was more and more detail to be provided. Our goal for this package was for it to be 100% complete. Every puzzle we created was duplicated – enough to replace them for a whole year. Pens, locks, boxes, folders, scoresheets, scripts, checklists, storage – no stone could be left unturned.
Our prep room, where we make all our events happen, was overflowing.
Teaching the staff to be Game Masters!
Packing everything away, the final labels printed, the end was still not in sight but the excitement to deliver was now here. We packed their bags and our own and headed to Ballina for delivery and training.
In the lead up Solid Mob had organised to schools for us to go to as our example schools where we would teach the Solid Mob team to effectively become us – Games Masters! They had to understand how to organise, prepare, deliver and host this event seamlessly!
The relationship between our staff and theirs felt familiar – we had been in such close contact all the way through this process that it felt like we were catching up with friends.
The big day finally came.
After two days in the office training and setting up for our first events the big day arrived. The Solid Mob crew beat us to our first school in Lismore and we are early people – they were clearly nervous at the idea of delivering a game to 150 students!
We set about setting up and Day One was really for them to help facilitate but more importantly to watch and learn. We take for granted what it takes to stand up in front of large groups and own yourself – we do it on a daily basis.
Students were engaged!
It worked – really worked and worked well!!! The students were so engaged and threw themselves at the challenge whole-heartedly. Even the cool kids got involved and it was so inspiring watching these influential role models from the Aboriginal community coming in and spreading an amazing message to the entire community not just to the Indigenous kids.
Day two – Solid Mob takes over
Day Two saw the Solid Mob crew take over – it was their game now so while we were there to watch and assist it was all up to them. We were down at South Grafton this time and in all honesty it wasn’t all plain sailing; it’s easy to forget our own little tools we use to make games that little more exciting!
Feeling for the group energy and dynamic and then timing your event to fit it almost feels like a sixth sense to us so it was hard not to jump in. All in all the day was definitely a success that was then topped off listening to Mook just sit and talk to some students.
This calm, friendly, gentle man literally sitting and speaking wisdom – holding the attention of a bunch of year 9’s; unforgettable.
Nearing the end of the event
Our time with Solid Mob was coming to an end, a last team meeting back at the office and a couple of quick updates to the package and we were headed to the airport.
Champagne isn’t normally any of our things but it seemed appropriate to clink glasses as we sat in the tiny airport waiting for our flight and looking back over an intense month.
Growing as a team together
The we knew the mission was accomplished but what we didn’t realise is what we’d be walking away with. We had never worked with this kind of organisation before but we’re glad we now have. More than just a job this was an experience to remember…
And, fortunately, an experience we got to repeat – just recently we created version 2.0! And yes, it was awesome to go and see our pals up in Ballina again!!!
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