The Leapfrog Summer School held in Lancaster this year sparked some really great debates and discussions about the different approaches and values individuals bring to community engagement. Both delegates and the Leapfrog team alike shared some fantastic stories of their experiences and their motivations for inclusive approaches to engagement. Among the topics up for discussion during the week was the use and value of tools to enhance engagement. Not least of which occurred during the hands on tool hacking break out sessions.

In the Leapfrog project we value tools as both an aid to facilitate creativity in the co-​design process, and as artefacts that have the capability to shape and improve engagement. In the tool hacking session we were aiming to share our approaches to developing tools, and experiment with new forms of tools in a hands on tool hack. 

In session one we presented our vision for how tools would be developed in Leapfrog, how they would be utilised and where they would have impact. We shared stories of two of the Leapfrog major projects, Working With Young People and Peer-​to-​Peer, focussing on how we approached the co-​design of tools in each project. We then led a discussion about the qualities of Leapfrog engagement tools and our strategy for dissemination and impact.

In the next session delegates broke away into groups and were set the brief of developing a new approach, which could be a new tool, to address either a research or engagement challenge. It was up to the groups to decide which challenge to take on and how they would respond to it. We provided copies of all the existing Leapfrog tools for the groups to play with and each group had just over two hours to come up with their challenge, conceptualise a response, and then present their ideas to the group.

There were a rich variety of responses all interesting and unique. From a set of hacked Leapfrog tools designed to alleviate peoples’ anxieties about co-​design to an improvised performance highlighting some of the salient issues surrounding community engagement. It was a really enjoyable and insightful two sessions, bringing to the fore all the different individual skills and approaches to engagement at the summer school.