We always love finding and sharing happy stories for the Positively Newsworthy section of our magazine. Our Winter 2020/21 issue carried a story about a game-changing app for dementia users, created by a group of Drogheda-based teens, and a couple of reflections on the amazing qualities of nature.
Teenage girls design memory-boosting app
by Aisling Cronin
An award-winning app called Memory Haven, designed to help patients with dementia, has just been released on app stores … and it’s all thanks to three amazing Drogheda-based teenage girls and their mentor.
Joy Njekwe, 17, Rachael Akano, 15, and Margaret Akano, 17, are the champions of Technovation Girls, an international competition that invites young women to develop an app to solve a problem in their community. The girls’ mentor, an Afro-Irish developer named Evelyn Nomayo, is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in computer science and statistics.
Memory Haven claimed first prize in the competition at the 2020 Technovation World Summit, beating over 1,500 entrants from 62 countries. Nomayo and the girls were thrilled when they learned of their success – their reaction video has been widely circulated on social media!
“Our main aim is just to help as many people as possible,” project manager Margaret explained. “We hope that our app can go global one day and reach millions of people who are affected by dementia and just make their lives somewhat easier.”
Mentor Nomayo shared that the app idea was inspired by her own mother’s battle with dementia: “My mom started having dementia problems three to four years ago. The first time I realised something was wrong was when she started hallucinating. She lived in America, but she’d be imagining that she was in Nigeria. One time [when I was visiting her] I gave her something to sew, and I could see the pain in her eyes because she forgot how to. She used to be a seamstress, but she couldn’t do it anymore. So some of my experiences that I had with her, the team translated into technology to help others.”
Memory Haven addresses the three most common difficulties associated with dementia: speech impairment, loss of memory, and a diminished capacity for recognition.
Its functions include a photo wallet that lets users scan through tagged pictures of the important people in their lives, memory games to improve cognitive function, and health alerts that remind both patients and caregivers of appointments or medication times.
The charity inspiring a love of the outdoors
by Aisling Cronin
Across the pond, environmental charity Trees for Cities is calling for British schools to embrace outdoor learning.
The charity aims to improve lives by planting trees in cities. They are currently providing free online educational resources for teachers and parents, which include guides on planting and growing vegetables, as well as videos and suggestions for nature-related games and exercises.
David Elliott, chief executive of Trees for Cities, said: “We know that deep and lasting change can only be made if tomorrow’s generation is involved and inspired to take action. We believe that an understanding and appreciation of the environment must be gained during childhood and through outdoor education.”
Trees for Cities has also been transforming school grounds across Britain into gardens, in a bid to inspire hands-on learning and get children excited about growing and eating healthy food. To date, the charity has created 73 ‘edible playgrounds’ in school grounds, working with more than 16,000 schoolchildren.
Craig Heeley, headteacher at Lemington Riverside primary school in Newcastle, said: “Since the edible playground’s completion in January 2020 the world has been thrown into turmoil by Covid-19 – but throughout the months of lockdown it has provided a place of calm and inspiration for the vulnerable children and the children of key workers who continued to attend school.
“For many of the children (and staff), it was their first experience of growing fresh produce and the culmination of the school chef using the home-grown produce for the children’s dinner in the summer was hugely exciting for all involved.”
Keep it Green
Nature is our lifeline
by Alison McEvoy
I’ve noticed my local park getting fuller and fuller these past months. Little feet, big feet, little bikes, big bikes, scooters and electric scooters … people of all ages getting out and about. My usual feeling of gratitude has quadrupled about the fact that I live near a beautiful, expansive park, complete with little tree-canopied walkways that allow you to feel like you are walking down a country lane when in fact you are in a European capital city.
We live in a country with so much green, so many trees, parks and coastal areas that we can take joy and solace in, and release our tensions and stresses through. I have been to parts of the world where cities consist almost entirely of concrete constructions. The concrete rises, rather than the trees, so that when you look up you see strings of roads criss-crossing the sky.
One Tree Planted is a global organisation, based in Vermont, that focuses on the act of planting trees. This simple act, when repeated over and over again, creates patches of earth filled with wild-life, beauty, fresh air and vistas that restore and delight the human mind. Trees are unsung heroes and One Tree Planted is here to sing that song:
“Forests provide jobs to over 1.6 billion people, absorb harmful carbon from the atmosphere, and are key ingredients in 25% of all medicines. Have you ever taken an aspirin? It comes from the bark of a tree!”
You can fundraise, become a tree ambassador, donate to a specific location in the world that inspires you or take part in their environmental education school’s programme. If you’ve become more of a nature lover in recent months, why not spread the love!?