Young Rewired State is an independent global network of kids aged 18 and under who have taught themselves to program computers. We introduce these children to like-minded peers at events around the world where they use freely available open data to make websites, apps and algorithms to solve real world challenges
In 2009, Rewired State decided to host an event called “Young Rewired State”, a weekend hosted by Google in their London offices intended to introduce open government data to the coding youth of the UK.
With great excitement and anticipation of meeting these young programmers we flung open the doors with a limited capacity of 50, due to the restrictions at Google London offices.
Three young people signed up.
As we called schools and scoured the internet we realised that there was a far bigger problem than young people not engaging with open government data. That was the lack of young programmers in the country, and the fact that we were still left with isolated kids, teaching themselves how to code in their bedrooms – terrifying their parents that they were up to no good. Schools, would often identify a lone individual who might be interested – but beyond that they could not help as as they had long since stopped teaching programming.
We then spent three months focused on finding the founding fifty, and with huge relief and even more anticipation, we brought them together. We ran a weekend, with mentors and government data experts on hand to help, and watched as they collaborated and created a blistering array of apps and websites, all using open government data.
In front of our eyes a community was born, something that was so needed – never again would these young geniuses be coding alone, from now on they had their peers and mentors to be a part of their education and maturation into engaged civic programmers.
Since 2009 this one event has become a rapidly growing network of developers and designers aged 18 and under. Our primary focus is to continue to find and foster every young person driven to teach themselves how to code, how to program the world around them.
That first weekend is celebrated annually through our Festival of Code, held over a week, (always the first full week of August), in multiple centres culminating in a huge showcase weekend at the Custard Factory in Birmingham.
Throughout the rest of the year we invite all of the young people to attend a variety of events, often ones where they can contribute to solving civic problems through code, or where they can mentor and teach other young people or adults.
We give an outlet to developing talent; to further their understanding and exposure to open data and provide a creative and fun atmosphere for them to meet like-minded individuals.
We want to show them that coding does not have to be isolating – there’s a thriving community of friends and like-minded young people ready and willing to share, support and inspire this new generation of talent, now: the world over.
In our fifth year we could see that there was a need to grow the network beyond the UK, as to these young people borders were irrelevant, and the problem of limited opportunities for young programming kids was in fact a global issue.
And so we have launched a programme called YRS Everywhere, where each year we will add six new regions beyond the UK – working with developer networks in the areas selected to identify 50 local coding kids and introduce them to open government data, and each other. The idea is that we will replicate the success we have experienced since 2009, and create a worldwide network with everyone working together at a local as well as global level.
In addition to this, we have begun to focus on YRS Hyperlocal in the UK. How can we support the young programmers locally? Adding to the power of community by enabling more face-to-face meet-ups and activities, to both support their own learning and to share their knowledge with their hyperlocal communities.