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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Teenager designs app to help with dementia

June 17, 2017    Jennifer O'Brien Ireland Reporter

Young coders from around the world will converge on Dublin this weekend to show off their design ideas

A digital memory box designed by a teenager to help people with dementia to recognise their families and remind them to take medication goes on show at a conference for young coders this weekend.

The Patients’ Assistance App, devised by Katie Kilroy, 17, from Dublin, will be one of the projects at the CoderDojo Coolest project event at the RDS today and tomorrow.

The app was inspired by Ms Kilroy’s experience with her grandmother, who had dementia, and was designed with her friend Ciara Leacy.
“Ciara and I want to change how dementia sufferers live their lives. With the help of this app we are planning to connect carers and patients,” she said.
“The app has a memory box section with pictures of the patient’s family and past. The idea originated from my desire to help my granny. She had dementia and we felt that if there was an app for her that was easy to use, it would not only help her and other sufferers, but it would help the families.”

The app also has reminder alerts to help people to remember when to take their medication and any other daily tasks.

A program designed by two 11-year-olds to make hospital less scary for children their age will also feature this weekend. Anna Farragher and Eva McAndrew from Tuam, Co Galway, created Hospital Holly, which tells children what to expect if they are admitted to hospital.

It consists of a website, app and doll, which all contain information about different procedures, such as blood tests and x-rays.

“One of our friends has to go to hospital a lot and have lots of scary things done so we decided we would make an app and make dolls to go with it,” Anna said.
“We would love to learn how to grow this into a business as all our research to date with different doctors and nurses has shown a huge market for this product. When we grow up I’d like to work with Google.”

CoderDojo is a volunteer-led computer programming club for children that was established in Cork in 2011 and now has 100,000 members across the globe. The Irish programmer James Whelton and the entrepreneur Bill Liao wanted to create a space in which children could learn code in a social environment.

The young coders or “ninjas” aged from 7 to 17 are travelling to Ireland from 18 countries, including Argentina, Serbia, Bulgaria, Japan, the United States and Australia, to exhibit their projects.

Noel King, co-founder and chairman of CoderDojo Coolest Projects, said that the rise in standard of project entries each year was something that continued to astound him. “It’s inspiring and humbling, working in technology and seeing young people who are 12 or 13 passionate about tech and creating real projects,” he said.

“In the next year and going forward, we are going to look at launching these projects properly in the marketplace. CoderDojo has provided an excellent foundation for Ireland in terms of coding, and what the kids really relate to is the creative side as a lot of their subjects in school don’t have that level of creativity.”

The RDS arena will be divided into three areas including a Smart City, which will provided an interactive space, a Steam (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths) Experience with interactive exhibits and speakers and a games arena.

Richard Bruton, the education minister, has said that coding is a subject that should be taught in primary schools here. “I am acutely conscious that we need to give all children the best start in a world where such skills will be key to participation and success,” he said. “I would hope that it is possible to use some of the learnings of the CoderDojo project and similar initiatives in considering approaches to integrating coding into the primary curriculum.”

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