Article written by Kaiah Kerekere, Co-designer at Zeal Kāpiti
Over the past few months, myself and a handful of other Kāpiti Coast local young people have been collaborating on a project, dubbed the Kāpiti Innovation Project, which we are all so thankful to have been a part of and are so excited to witness the outcome of. Throughout the process of developing and structuring our multitude of ideas, not only have we slowly but surely reached closer to our finishing goal, but we have all become true friends during so, learning all about the creative process, how to successfully collaborate together to focus on one goal and how to present our flourishing ideas to many people we were absolutely pumped to speak to – including Chlöe Swarbrick, Barnardos, Evandah Steadman and plenty of other amazing people with incredible minds and expertise.
What have we found to be the most enjoyable aspect of this experience?
Something that has been particularly enjoyable for all 7 of us has been to understand the process of creating and developing an idea from a simple idea into a fully realised, concentrated and conceptualised app or website that we can be proud of together. It has been super awesome and interesting to widen our perspectives a little more each week within the fields of website development, marketing, coding, research and the art of hackathons. We have all thoroughly appreciated the shared opinions and time from the people we have worked with so far, including each other, and are pumped to see what’s next.
What have we found to be the most challenging aspect of this experience?
I think one of the hardest parts of our project has been reducing the idea from such a massive, complex one into a smaller and more direct one with perhaps less details but more potential as a product for youth to utilise – after all – when you try to create a solution for every problem, no problem gets solved in the end – but this has been an outstanding learning curve to experience in planning to create a fresh app or website. Another challenging aspect for many of us has been getting out of our comfort zones and deeply interviewing the young people around us about the tricky subject of mental health and accomplished the scary task of presenting our piece of work to professionals for critiques and questioning. Both of these were done in order to prove or disprove our assumptions we have identified and gain more perspective from others and we have overcome these challenges and realised that they only make our work more valuable and continuing down the epic track ahead.
What have we found to be the most valuable thing we have learnt from this experience?
The most valuable thing we have learnt from my perspective is that in order to get an idea out there whether it be to support young people like we are doing, a business idea or a generic concept, it is vital to keep it manageable and concentrated on one idea. Even though creativity is endless, it is crucial to keep the idea focused on one identified problem, one identified solution, and the direct track of how to get there as fast as possible. We think this is an incredible insight that could help anyone who is looking to put themselves and their ideas out there into the community because it keeps you focused on achieving your end goal and less on small details. We have learnt that it is the most important step to realise that if your idea is not manageable or concentrated enough, it makes the process of releasing the concept much more difficult. If you can begin with one thing only and get that out, then the concept can grow and blossom into a bigger and more successful one, but it has to start somewhere.
Where have we been so far?
We have been working collaboratively on this project as a group of 7 young people (Kaiah, Hannah, Tyler, Leith, Joseph, Jemma and Tiaki) and 2 ZEAL friends (Chris and Hayley) since some time around February, and our idea has been through some serious growing and changing and adapting since our initial meeting, which is perhaps the most inspiring part of this experience. To see our idea go through so many different stages of growth and development has been so cool to see and we can see our end goal (of giving a helping hand to the young people of Aotearoa with their mental health in the most beneficial way possible) becoming more achievable as we go, with many more stages to undergo in the future. We have seen long day hackathons where we sketched up our first prototype drawings, brainstormed countless different features our website could have and spoken to some of the top professionals in the realms of business, technology and website coding in NZ, seen our weekly check ins on Google Meet face some intense decision making and consensus deliberating, preparing for presentations like Shark Tank, removing and adding different aspects to our plans and spending hours researching our assumptions after we identified them to discuss their outcomes and how we make sure our idea is the best it possibly can be.
At the moment, we are in the midst of drawing conclusions from our research process, spending our weekly meetings getting all our answers out there to look at, discover and discuss.
Where are we going now?
Our next step is to begin answering some of the more difficult to face questions that have arisen including who exactly is our target audience after all these findings and questionings?, how exactly do we execute our idea to fit the prospect of filling our goal’s shoes?, how soon can we bring this to life?, do we eliminate the features that are the least popular?, is this idea a tool for therapists to use with their clients, or a self help tool? Currently, we are looking at a website which acts as a safety plan in order to guide young people on their mental health journey by providing them with features such as self care activities, comforting imagery of their personal favourite people and places, their own favourite music, resources to help them get through their struggles and more. We are so excited to witness our concept slowly but surely coming to life and in all, we are so thankful for everyone who has been there along the way to understand our points of view, give us their time, attention and ideas and questions and give us pushes in the right direction for the future of our safety plan concept. We can’t wait to see where this ends up and how people are positively impacted by our take on a solution for mental health in NZ youth.
Want to help?
If you are someone who would like to learn more about our project and our experience or you are a young person keen to be interviewed, contact Zeal @zealnz on Instagram.