Thirty kids (9-15 years) and about fifty young people (16-30 years) arrived at the dock in Amsterdam on a rainy Saturday in November. One of the warehouses was transformed into a hip and industrial venue that would inspire them to invent the best ideas for the Salvation Army .
Hannelise Tvedt – Territorial Commander – took her role as principal very serieusly: “It’s time for you to pick up the torch.” And so they did. First the kids. Their Hackathon only lasted 3 hours; hardly enough for the 6 teams to finish their ambitious ideas from starting a Gamezone in your Neighbourhood, a Baking Club including a cookbook with basic recipes, bible stories and personal stories, a Mobile Vegetable Garden for poor neighbourhoods to an impressive system to save money for the 10.000 kids who live in poverty and offer them a day out. Suspence was killing when the kids ánd leadership voted for the best idea. The winning idea was the SAY-app; a Salvation Army Youth –app for kids and teens to build a digital community, play a game ‘Build your corps’, chat and listen to good Christian music.
Straight after this exitement the 24 hour Youth Hackathon started with 6 teams. Every team received an envelope with a challenge concerning a current theme like loneliness, sustainability, inclusiveness and 911: where is the need? Inspired by several intense TEDtalks and a prayer walk and energized by dance-offs, karaoke and theaterdance the teams came up with very concrete ideas for the Salvation Army.:
“Warm sweaterday: Once a week we turn of the heat and wear a sweater.”
“We should create silence rooms in schools, liberaries and universities.”
“We should build online and offline communities that are open and safe for young people.”
Again, the longing for a safe community was underlined. So, here are the challenges for the Salvation Army in the Netherlands. Kids and young people raised up their voice. Now it’s time for the next step: to put all this into practice, with the support of passionate people like Hannelise Tvedt.