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Dads Totally Rock

December 5th, 2015 by Chris Hellawell

Forgive me reader, for I have sinned.  It’s been (many) months since my last post.  I’ve been doing all this awesome stuff with the Edinburgh Tool Library and I just haven’t had time to write to you.  I hope I still get through the Tooly Gates…

What has finally driven me to dust off the old keyboard, is down to inspiration.  Inspiration from young people, inspiration from a fantastic charity, and inspiration from seeing the potential of ETL.

In the summer, I got a tweet from Dads Rock, who work with dads and their children, inviting me round for a chat.  I’d always been told not to take tweets from strangers, but luckily I ignored all my instincts and went and met with David Marshall from Dads Rock and Gavin Smith from RG Workshops.  They had hatched a plan to work with a small group of fathers to build wooden balance bikes for their children, and were looking at partnerships and ideas for the project.  Fantastic, I thought – Dads Rock provided the space and the dads, Gavin supplied the expertise, and ETL supplied the tools and held stuff!

Roughly eight weeks ago, we began the project with three young dads, all aged around 20, all with young children.  The aim was to provide them with a project that they would engage with, an opportunity to learn new things, meet new people, and at the end of it, have an amazing present for their son or daughter, ready for Christmas.  It ended up making much more of a difference on everyone involved.

Week to week, I saw first-hand, what I have always thought about making – that it builds the image one has of oneself.  These young men, who were reserved and quiet in the first week, came out of their shells, and were quickly laughing and joking, and really enjoying what they were doing.  They walked taller, and the Wednesday sessions quickly became the reference point for their week in what are often, fairly chaotic lives.

Making something gives people purpose and a goal.  For these young men, that goal was seeing their children’s faces when they gave them a bike, built by dad.  For others, it is solving a problem.  For many people, what you make is completely unimportant – it is the act of making and the benefits that come with it that are important.  Whilst the dads were focussed on the end goal, I think they picked up a lot of other skills and experiences along the way.

Projects like this one really re-energise me, and show me that the vision I had when I began this odyssey with ETL, is right – that in order to help people, we just have to give them the physical and the metaphorical tools.  With opportunity and support, we, as human beings can achieve amazing things.

Just ask the children of the young dads from Dads Rock.

dad rocks