NCS Autumn finally drew to a close with the graduation celebration evening on December 3rd,  in the Ballroom of the Winding Wheel theatre in Chesterfield. It was a wonderful opportunity for participants and staff alike to share their NCS journey with parents, relatives and guests, including the ‘dragons’ who saw the group pitch their project idea back in October.

Alongside smash hits (mostly Bieber!), sparkles (Fran’s weakness)  and selfies (say no more – Louis!) , guests were treated to an awesome video montage (courtesy of cleverly creative Claire); insights into the personal highlights of all involved;  and, most importantly, the opportunity to hear first-hand what the graduates had been tirelessly working on throughout the four weeks prior.

Inspired by 3 nights away in a beautiful but remote part of the Peak District with, heaven forbid, no wifi (!!), the team decided to tackle an issue they felt was an increasing problem in Chesterfield and beyond – the lack of real interaction as a direct result of too much virtual interaction. They believed that the lack of access to technology during the first part of the programme had in fact helped them to bond more quickly as a strong team, and enabled them to recognise that increasing attachment to our phones and other devices is in fact turning us into a less sociable and less connected society. What an inspiring and insightful choice and how heart-warming to hear such a message coming from the very members of society the online industries are ultimately designed for!

Having branded themselves and their project ‘Reprogram Society , with a thought-provoking tag-line to boot  – “Switch off your phone, switch on your life” –  the group set out to raise awareness of the issue and to encourage others to join them in switching off and re-engaging with life. To reach out to people, they created and printed posters, using funds from their incredible efforts at a car-boot sale on a dreary, drizzly November morning! These were then distributed both in Chesterfield town centre and in residential areas, as well as being put up on display in shops and public spaces like the library. Further to that, they decided that their best course of action would be to take their message directly to their target audience and so used social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to spread the word, sharing both original content and others’ work, also using it as an opportunity to connect with those sharing their views. They created a #NoTechChallenge and hope that this will continue to spread, leaving a powerful and timely message as their legacy.

Now if these young people from Chesterfield can be perceptive enough to see,

the downfalls of a society addicted to technology.

Can you?

Focus not on what has been, or how things were before,

think instead of moving forward and of being so much more.

Live real life, speak real words,

To real, live people –how utterly absurd!

Not as crazy as it seems to them; we speak mainly to a screen,

using a language of emoticons and a multitude of memes.

So listen to the young – try to find some balance.

Why not make your first attempt the #NoTechChallenge?