By John Ensor •
Published: 12 Oct 2023 • 14:41
Irish Students behind award-winning wellness App.
Credit: Bongo Buddies Wellness App For Teenagers/Facebook.com
A new wellness app, aimed to improve the mental health of young adults, has been developed by a group of Irish teenagers and has gone on to earn worldwide accolades.
Four Cork City students, Layla O’Driscoll, Leona Islam, Roisin Buckley, and Alicja Skulimowska, from St Vincent’s school, unveiled their innovative app, which has now clinched a prestigious international tech award, writes CorkBeo.
The quartet developed ‘Bongo Buddies’ for the Technovation Challenge, a worldwide contest encouraging young girls to harness technology for community betterment. Their app, tailored for adolescents, offers a sanctuary when they’re feeling low. Users can indulge in colouring, monitor their emotions, and even pose questions to the app.
Their commendable efforts didn’t go unnoticed. They not only represented Ireland but also bagged the top honour for social impact at the grand finale in California. They returned home with the honours on October 10, World Mental Health Day.
‘Mental health is a very serious topic in our school,’ Alicja remarked, ‘it’s talked about a lot in school and it’s very close to our hearts.’ Their dedication to the app was fuelled by their school’s emphasis on mental health.
With insights from their Digital Media Literacy lessons and guidance from mentors Sinead Connolly and Miriam Walsh of Apple, they’ve crafted a truly remarkable platform.
The app’s figurehead is Bongo, a chatbot where youngsters can express their emotions and get validated mental health guidance, endorsed by the school’s guidance counsellor. The complimentary app boasts a daily journal, mood monitoring, and narratives. Users can also personalise Bongo with various outfits and decorations.
The girls had the opportunity to present their creation and its development to judges in Ireland and at the Technovation semi-finals in San Francisco. Out of over 2,100 entries from 84 nations, ‘Bongo Buddies’ stood out, making it to the finals.
Alicja and her team are ecstatic about their Social Impact Award win and have ambitious plans for the app. ‘We want to do more variations, add more stories, mental health articles. We definitely are going to keep working on it.’ As for her personal aspirations, Alicja shared, ‘I think I definitely want to go into something in technology in the future, it’s something I really enjoy and after this experience, I definitely want to keep going.’
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
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