During the pitches on the first night of Hacking Health – Windsor Detroit, a silence and awe fell over the room when several high school girls took to the microphone and delivered a well-honed one minute pitch. They talked about a need to track their mental health as teens in order to better communicate with their “circle of care” for better diagnosis, understanding, and overall well-being. Each of them confidently delivered their part of the pitch, and then they asked for designers, programmers, and other technical help on their project. It was obvious that the room was blown away by their determination and enthusiasm.
Following the pitches, their team was swiftly formed with some college students that were all too eager to be a part of this project. By 10 PM on the first night of the event, a Canadian dream team was formed with representation from Leamington District Secondary School (LDSS), Leamington District Memorial Hospital, and St. Clair College’s Web Team. All aspects of a stellar team were accounted for from people with ideas and project managers to people with the technical skills to make it all a reality.
Alyson Skidmore, a student from LDSS, explained, “We want to try to get to the source [of teenage mental health issues] and help teens solve this big problem.”
Watching this team work together over the weekend was a process that any hackathon could only dream of seeing. The teenagers and their mentors were calculated in their development of their ideas and were careful to include their technical team members in every step of the process. Likewise, the technical team was working tirelessly to make those ideas a working application.
The running joke over the weekend was often a reference to the difference between the way that Canadians and people from the US look at competition. It was definitely the mantra of this team that, “We’re Canadians, we’re already winners.”
All the teams were thrilled to be working with other experienced, brilliant, and thoughtful professionals. When talking with the technical side of this mostly student team, it was apparent how much they all loved working with each other on projects like this one. Lori Dunford, a member of the St. Clair Web Team, explained, “We really wanted a chance to give back and help the community, and get real experience with it. There’s nothing quite like being given a weekend to really pound something out.” Her enthusiasm was resonated by all of her other teammates both about working together as well as with the teenage girls from Leamington.
The final presentation was put on by the LDSS students and their mentors where the girls confidently told judges how important an app like theirs would be for their peers hoping to alleviate mental health issues. After some questions, the team made sure to thank their technical counterparts for developing an actual working prototype to show off to anyone interested. These students made it clear that healthcare solutions are important no matter what your age. Hacking Health was an important place for them to find allies in their development as young professionals.