Mission improbable

Iain Broome, communications manager of The Workshop, digital design agency at Nether Edge
Iain Broome, communications manager of The Workshop, digital design agency at Nether Edge

DELEGATES to the Children’s Media Conference in Sheffield next week will be challenged to an online game which involves winning points in return for completing missions in the neighbourhood.

They will be following the example of youngsters in Shiregreen who have been enjoying their own version of the Mission Explore interactive platform developed by a Sheffield company.

The Workshop, a communication and design agency based in Nether Edge specialising in digital educational resources and online learning games, is making a presentation at the conference,  the leading event in Britain for those involved in developing, producing and distributing kids’ content across all platforms.

Communications manager Iain Broome explained: “Mission Explore is a platform we launched at the end of last year getting kids doing individual missions which took them out and about into the community and local environment completing tasks for which they earn points.”

The Workshop collaborated with local housing provider Shiregreen Community Homes to create Mission Shiregreen, a version specific to the area with 40 expeditions inspired by the ideas of young people from the local community. 

Said Broome: “The presentation at the conference has a two-fold objective – to show the platform to potential commissioners and to show how it has worked in Shiregreen.

“The original Mission Explore was developed with the Geography Collective, a group of teachers who produced a book about it as well as the website. Last November we relaunched version two and redeveloped the website.

“One of the geography teachers came up and spent a couple of days in Shiregreen researching the area.”

Missions include a nature hunt – to record wildlife present in Shiregreen − whereby young people are urged to take photos of animals found in the nearby Woolley Wood. Participants then upload the photos to a website, achieving points for their efforts.

“Other challenges are to fly a Concorde in Concord Park, so that gets them making paper aeroplanes, and finding lamp-posts painted different colours,” continued Broome.

To ensure that children and young people are using spaces and places safely, each mission has a built-in risk assessment.

Mission:Shiregreen is currently being used by local community groups, including the Shiregreen Scouts, and school children. The young people are also coming forward with new missions and challenges.

The motive behind Mission:Shiregreen is to encourage young people to use outdoor spaces positively and also to promote volunteering. 

With children and young people making up a large part of the Shiregreen community, the project rewards their participation in community life and encourages healthy, fun activity. 

“The idea is to make it educational in a way that the children don’t realise they are learning things and exploring the environment,” said Broome.

Mission:Shiregreen has been developed as part of the Shiregreen Neighbourhood Challenge – an initiative led by Shiregreen Community Homes, part of Sanctuary Group - designed to show how people, when equipped with the right skills and financial support, can work together to devise new and imaginative ways of tackling pressing social issues.

Funding for Mission:Shiregreen came from the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) and the Big Lottery Fund (BIG).

Meanwhile The Workshop are making Mission Explore available to schools who can create missions in their own environment. In the past the Nether Edge company has designed games for the CBeebies website and other organisations such as Learn Direct with whom it has worked on a series of marketing campaigns.

Iain will be participating in a discussion on Enabling Kids and Connecting Communities next Thursday and The Workshop will have a stall in the Hubs on all three days in which delegates can complete specific conference missions.