Midway through 2006, the Department for Children Schools & Families (DCSF) invited the creators of We Are What We Do to a meeting. They had heard that Change the World for a Fiver was a huge hit in classrooms - stimulating discussion and inspiring action.
But there was a problem. Action #08: Take a bath with someone you love. Ten year old boys read it and tended to dissolve into giggles.
Discussion ensued. What was required was a book of everyday actions with the same slugger punch as Change the World for a Fiver that would engage everyone and sit happily in young people’s lives. Actually (and here was the sweet-spot) wouldn’t it make more sense for young people themselves to be the architects of these actions?
So they launched the Small Action Big Change competition in The Times in October in 2007 and invited young people to answer the question:
‘What simple action would you ask one million people to do to change the world?’
The response was overwhelming. From Bangor to Brixton, from preschoolers to Year 12s, over 1,000 schools and groups took part, coming up with actions that touched on global warming and community, knife crime and recycling. A council of celebrities (Dermot O’Leary and Ronnie Corbett among them), teachers, kids and parents reduced 65 finalists to a workable thirty.
The remaining actions were subject to a robust door policy. They were sifted and simmered ensuring that each was simple and everyday. Some needed nothing doing. Others, a bit of spit and polish. Gilwern Primary School’s ‘Pass a smile’ became ‘Action #01: Make someone smile’ and Omar Bynon’s ‘Take a ball around the world’ was boiled down to ‘Speak football’ (many concerned Year 6s thought this one needed to be a bit greener!).
And the final actions were road tested in schools and in youth groups around the country until we had definitively cracked it.
The final result,Teach Your Granny to Text & Other Ways To Change The World was published an became an immediate best seller.