An idea for a digital platform to help people cope with mental issues, designed by pupils from George Eliot Academy, has been shortlisted for a national TeenTech award. Year 9 pupils Stephanie Cooper, Lauren Jukes and Joseph Ballard researched and pitched the idea for using technology to create a safe space for mental health support as part of a TeenTech festival hosted by the MIRA Technology Institute (MTI). The concept includes a virtual room where avatars can release their stress through gaming, as well as providing access to licenced therapists.

The trio’s ‘Virtual Health – Made in Mind’ concept has been shortlisted in the ‘Best innovation’ category and pupils are now preparing for the final which is due to take place on 20 June 2022 at the Institution of Engineering and Technology in London.

Last month, the MTI welcomed over 100 school pupils from Leicestershire and Warwickshire including the Midland Academies Trust schools as part of an event designed to inspire young people to think about careers in engineering. Hosted by TV’s Dallas Campbell, best known for presenting ‘The Gadget Show’ and ‘Bang Goes the Theory’, pupils were challenged to solve some of the world’s most urgent problems with the best ideas being submitted for the TeenTech awards.

TeenTech runs activities across the UK designed to engage young people in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM subjects), and connect them to individuals working at all levels in industry. Activities encompass a broad spectrum of projects including the future of transport and the skills required to engage with emerging technologies including electric cars and connected and autonomous vehicles.

Homeira Zakary, Principal of George Eliot Academy said, “We are very proud of Stephanie, Lauren and Joseph for reaching the finals of the prestigious competition. The judges were extremely impressed with their idea which addresses the high-profile issue of mental health and provides innovative ways to deal with issues and get help. The judges described their idea as ‘well-constructed, sophisticated and thoughtful’ with the ‘potential to be used globally’.”

Working face to face with over 12,000 young people every year, TeenTech was founded by former Tomorrow’s World presenter Maggie Philbin to help young people understand contemporary career opportunities and the skills they will need to get involved.

The organisation is particularly effective at encouraging girls and students from disadvantaged backgrounds to consider careers in technology, engineering, construction, and the applied sciences.

Marion Plant, OBE FCGI, Chief Executive of the Midland Academies Trust said, “Reaching the final of this high-profile competition is a fantastic achievement for our pupils. The TeenTech programme really helps young people to gain inspiration for their future careers. They may not have considered choosing engineering or technology, but this type of event demonstrates that solving problems can be fun and hugely rewarding as well as being critical and important. We wish Stephanie, Lauren and Joseph the very best for the finals.”