Young Rewired State and my brother Stephen

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Yesterday, 11th August 2012 was an extremely life affirming and poignant day for me, but it was also tinged with sadness.

I spent the day at Young Rewired State 2012 at The Custard Factory in Birmingham judging incredible apps produced in the previous five days by 7-18 year old kids. It was so exciting to see kids, some of whom had no previous development experience, showcasing the apps that they had produced, helped by wonderful volunteer mentors in less than a week.

Yesterday was also three years to the day since my younger brother Stephen committed suicide. Stephen was probably the person who got me into computing in the first place. I remember him taking me to a computer show, I think it was at Olympia, a very long time ago and giving me my first experience of programming. I watched him type a couple of lines of code on a keyboard and then looked on in admiration as a rude message (I wish I remembered what it was, I just remember giggling and thinking we would get told off) displayed repeatedly on the screen. To me it looked like magic, but I now know it was a two line BASIC program, probably something like this:

10 PRINT “You’ve got a big bum”

20 GOTO 10 

I didn’t know Stephen as well as I should. Our Mum had died suddenly when I was 12 and my twin brother and sister were 7. My Dad remarried a year later, unfortunately to someone who was emotionally abusive and made our lives a misery. I left home as soon as I was 16 and my brother and sister were forbidden from seeing me. I then moved away to London and didn’t see Sarah and Stephen for some time.

When they were a bit older they were able to come to London to visit me. Sarah came up and we went to a Japan concert, Stephen came up and we went to a computer show.

Stephen was a lovely man, gentle and kind with a strong sense of right and wrong. He was always there to stand up for people who needed it. He loved computing, computers and gaming. I so wish he was still around.

How great would it have been for him to have been at Young Rewired State 2012 yesterday with me. He would have absolutely loved it. Loads of excited kids doing very cool stuff with computers, just like he had done all those years ago.

I’m so glad that YRS exists. There are thousands of kids all over the country who can benefit from a bit of mentoring and support, a bit of help towards producing a piece of technology that is not only awesome, but in a lot of cases also very useful. Spending the day yesterday judging kids who had done amazingly cool stuff with technology, and chatting to lots of great people who were excited as me about what the kids had produced, was the perfect way to spend the anniversary of Stephen’s death. It felt like a celebration of the stuff that he loved.

Our future depends on our ability to create and utilise technology AND our future depends on our kids. Young Rewired State brings the two together in a way that would have made my brother Stephen very happy.

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Thank you so much to the amazing Emma Mulqueeny and everyone involved in YRS for making yesterday such an awe inspiring experience.

…and do check out the amazing YRS hacks for yourself…can you believe that they were produced in 5 days by kids? No neither can I, but they were 🙂

5 comments

  1. This is so moving Sue. We have to make tragedy into triumph; love to you xx PS you don’t get cooler than a Japan gig, official.

  2. ahhh man…. he mastered Basic and you go get a PhD… I have the same problem with my younger sibling… On the back of this – dubious musical tastes too…However, he shaped your path, your nature and your understanding, not to mention touches your very essence by his life and indeed in his death… The result is someone whom touches lives daily, yeah, a little too academic sometimes but in your work today – you as a person are changing and with this changing the people around you. Your questioning and yet an observing eye of now and the future is rapidly developing you far beyond that of anything you’ve done before. And yet it all seems so logical.In this, all of this, there will always be that sadness – yet because of the inspiration he gave you, the laughs, love and yeah, the loss… Your approach to everything is different, aware and effective.In this you touch people, in the same way as Stephen twiddled 10 PRINT "You’ve got a big bum" 20 GOTO 10 Your eyes lit up and a smile soon followed. Imagination is our greatest gift, sure learning and understanding is vital to make that process better ??? but to sometimes just imagine what, how and when will tomorrow start to look better, cooler and more like geek heaven can be more vital that the knowledge to do it, as without imagination none of it happens.In the days and years now passed, the mind has raced a thousand times and chased every avenue of reason, like an extended chrysalis of thought. Today you embark upon nurturing the minds and heart of others…Would a brother be proud?Whatever Stephen is or was ??? you are his greatest work and testament…

  3. <html><head></head><body bgcolor="#FFFFFF"><div>Oh my goodness Sue, I never knew. &nbsp;What a sad and also inspiring day for you. &nbsp;Such a shame Stephen wasn’t there to see it too x<br><br></div></body></html>

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