A Kid-Centered World
My last post touched on the importance of early childhood development. Here's a story highlighting the courageous Brian Bulcke, a former professional athlete and Stanford engineer who is bringing education, sports, and "design thinking," to new, heroic heights. And it's all in the name of youth development. (*Disclaimer* he is also my husband!)
He jumps into the classroom to be greeted with enthusiasm by the kids.
"Is everyone ready to Play4Tomorrow!?"
As a former professional football player, and "high growth" engineer from Stanford University, Brian Bulcke is bringing a new game of education to Silicon Valley's youth. One where the children literally...
Play for tomorrow.
"I just don't enjoy the classroom environment of discipline," Brian explains, "I don't want to discipline, but encourage discipline."
Leading the group to a gymnasium down the road thereafter, what Brian and the kids were all set up to do, on a casual Wednesday afternoon, was "redesign portable housing." Having worked with this select group from the Sienna Youth Center for three months now, Brian was "challenging" the students to a "design-duel," where the kids were to "out design" and even prototype the "design master." It was the student's who picked the topic for the duel. Brian brought all of the materials.
"It's my job," Brian explains, "To give the students the skills to beat me." "And if they can beat me, they can beat anyone!" he adds. As an aside, Brian has led and advised dozens of high-growth tech startups in the field of sports, education and wellness. He authentically believes in celebrating and acknowledging each child's imagination as the key to making a better world.
As indicated through the Play4Tomorrow mission statement:
"Empowering all young people to design their lives and scale the unimaginable through entrepreneurship and play"
What Brian has uniquely manufactured is a game that melds a high-intensity atmosphere from sports, with "design thinking" and engineering principles used in play, all pointed at solving some of the globe's most pressing and prominent issues - like housing crises, in this case.
"I call the gymnasium a 'design dojo'," Brian explains, referencing the name for a studio space in karate. "It's all about respect," he adds. Respect for oneself, others, and the future sustainability of our planet.
He starts every session with physical movement. Then the kids position themselves behind their personal whiteboards. They brainstorm ideas. Upon ideas. Upon ideas. And then, they prototype.
"I am done my first prototype!" Brian yells to the group, hoping to inspire a sense of playful urgency in the kids. The music is blaring, recyclable materials are everywhere, and every student seems to have a smile on their face. Full immersion!
While the winner of the healthy competition has still yet to be determined...
"I actually think they out designed me!" Brian shared with me post session.
Overall, Wednesday's session was "mini version" of what Brian hosts every few months known as "IMPACT DAY" events. He gathers some of the most prominent founders across North America in spirit of connecting them with future innovators - being the youth.
"It works both ways," Brian explains. "The kids get exposed to some of the leading technologies, while founders are reminded of why they are... or should be... inventing in the first place!"
"My future hope is to bridge the gap between kids and technology founders," Brian adds. "Tech is the future and so are our youth!"
The next IMPACT DAY falls on April 27, 2019. With Earth Day falling only days prior, the focus of the event will be on health & sustainability.
For more information on how to get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org