HAPPY APP TO SAVE KIDS
SMARTPHONES in schools sometimes cop criticism for enabling bullying, but four young West Aussies are turning that perception on its head with an award-winning app that promotes inclusion.
The brainchild of Sacred Heart College students Alexandra Groves, 14, Jack Bennett, 15, Anthony Bulich, 14, and Tyler Williams, 14, Passion Your Purpose connects kids with other students who share the same interests and hobbies.
On sign-up, students complete a quiz and are presented with a list of recommended groups based on their tastes — from chess to soccer to jazz music.
Student leaders, selected by each school, then reach out to any child who indicates an interest in their assigned group. The goal is to connect peers through their passions, along the way combating the loneliness and isolation that often leads to depression, anxiety and in extreme cases, suicide.
The idea for the app was born during an 18-week school project that required the Year 9 students to identify a problem that could be solved by a tech-enabled start-up.
“Depression and social anxiety is something that could affect all of us and we figured what may cause that is a lack of people to be with, a lack of purpose,” Tyler said.
“The app lets kids join groups where they feel they belong, our hope is to drive a sense of belonging for members.”
Although still in design phase, Passion Your Purpose was crowned the winner of the Innovation Awards in Melbourne last week. The students also won $10,000 worth of digital services through the junior category of Pitchfest, which will be put towards the app development.
They are now waiting for a Commonwealth grant application that would allow them to travel to China and pitch their idea to investors at the Asia Pacific ICT Alliance Awards in October.
“We want to have the actual app built by professional developers and ready to roll out to early adopting schools by the middle of next year,” Tyler said.
Tech passion: Anthony Bulich, Jack Bennett, Tyler Williams, and Alexandra Groves are ready to go to China. Picture: Justin Benson-Cooper