An empty shell where a downtown building once stood

What to do with kids’ ideas – even the ones that will “never work”

The other day, I told you about how the kids’ Photovoice project stopped me in my tracks and why we made a video for those kids. 

Today, I want to share one of the photo ideas the kids made and what Deb Brown and I said to those kids. It’s also part of the video we made for you to share with your community’s kids

One photo was of an empty space where a downtown building used to be, with this caption: 

“A place we could fix up and put in a bowling alley for kids to use”

As an adult with experience, you may be tempted to react with, “That will never work.” 

It doesn’t have to “work.” It doesn’t have to be a “real” business. 

The kids could hold a pop-up temporary bowling alley event, even on an empty lot. They would enjoy it, and even one time is a success. 

Here’s the process Deb and I shared with those kids, and what we put in our video for you to share with kids in your town. 

  • Find out who owns or is in charge of the empty lot and get permission.
  • If they say no, find a different spot, maybe inside an empty building or on a parking lot, or in a park.
  • Find some toy bowling sets. Ask parents groups, day cares, or check thrift shops.
  • Make some signs, publicize it online, and spread the word. Invite groups of younger kids to come play. 
  • Get a group of people to help set it up just for one day, and be a bowling alley.
  • Stream live and publicize it while it’s happening.
  • Talk to people who stop by about ideas for future events.
  • Have fun! Do it again if you want, or not if you don’t. 

Don’t let your experience trick you into saying “That will never work,” or “Never gonna happen” when young people tell you what they want. 

Instead, ask them, “How could we do a pop-up temporary version to get started?” 

And take a look at our Idea Friendly Youth video/audio: Picture the change you want and make it. It’s 6 minutes long, and it includes 3 more examples.