Remarks at Youth-Led Tech Celebration Ceremony

Here’s a short video of part of the remarks I gave at the conclusion of Smart Chicago’s first season of Youth-Led Tech:

Here’s a complete text of the remarks as prepared:

Hello. My name is Daniel X. O’Neil and I’m the Executive Director of the Smart Chicago Collaborative. I, along with my colleagues here, came up with this program that we’re celebrating today.

As you know, this is a technology program run for six weeks in the summer. Here in Chicago, there are hundreds of summer programs. It’s a real thing here.

I like to think about rooms.

When I go into a room, whether it’s at City Hall or Association House of Chicago or Chicago Youth Centers ABC Polk Bros. or the the Governor’s Mansion or  Christ The King Jesuit College Preparatory School, or (NEBC), Dr. Elzie Young Community Center or  Teamwork Englewood or 1871 or wherever my job my life takes me, I like to think about what it took to make that room.

When I go into a room, whether it’s at City Hall or Association House of Chicago or Chicago Youth Centers ABC Polk Bros. or the the Governor’s Mansion or  Christ The King Jesuit College Preparatory School, or (NEBC), Dr. Elzie Young Community Center or Teamwork Englewood or 1871 or this one, or wherever my job or my life takes me, I like to think about the billions of little accidents that had to occur in order for this set of people to be here in that place at that time.

And this is a great room.

Think, for a moment, about how you got here. I know it’s an amazing story, full of wonder and joy and pain and learning and mistakes and mastery.

I know that’s how I got here. How we at Smart Chicago got here.

I did a lesson with each of the youth here, I went to each of the locations and did a lesson called, “Smart Chicago, You, Power, Poetry, and Pictures”. I talked to you all about these rooms, and about how each and everyone of you can go anywhere you want.

And you may remember, the most important thing I told you. The thing you need to know is that we love you, and we’re never going to let you go.

At first blush, that may seem an odd lesson for a tech program.

Maybe the first thing they need to know is the other things we taught them.

How to use WordPress. How the Internet works. How to use GIMP photo editing software. Introduction of game development.

Those are all important, and you all learned that.

But what you really need to know is that we love you, and we’re never going to let you go.

You have our business cards. we’re connected on social media. We have your contact info. All you guardians, we’re connected to you. How many people here have I spoke with personally over the phone? I want you all to call me. (773) 960-6045. This is my job. This is what I do for a living. This is our lives at Smart Chicago.

Because we love you, and we’re never going to let you go.

I need you all to sign up for the CUTGroup, the Civic User Testing Group, and we’ll be connected there. $5 VISA gift cards just for signing up. That’s how we’ll never let you go.

We have new programs all the time. I am on LinkedIn, i am on Twitter, I am on Facebook. We all know, don’t we, to the adults here, we know how random and wonderful and non-linear a career can be.

But if we love each other. That’s the path. That’s the route. That’s what I know. That’s what I can do.

So I am going to love you, and I’m never going to let you go.

Thank you for coming. Thank you for participating, and thank you for being a part of the very first Youth-Led Tech.