Lack of health education centered around disenfranchised communities in schools is a big problem in the U.S. As two women, one of whom is black and the other bisexual, Destigmatizing Healthcare’s team understands this problem firsthand. In many school districts across the nation, sexed is exclusively heterosexual, and in some places it is non-existant. Women are often not taught how to self-check for even the most common types of cancer. It can be difficult for people of color to access healthcare in which they feel comfortable they will not be discriminated against. Together, these populations make up a large percentage of the United States population, therefore the fact that health education is targeted at white, straight people who are often men, is a dangerous issue.

What it does

Destigmatizing Healthcare provides easy-to-access information for a variety of disenfranchised communities. It provides informational resources, step-by-step processes, helpful videos, and even a “Flags and Definitions Key'' for many LGBTQ+ identities all in one platform. This is important because a lot of information in these communities overlaps and is related, but also have distinct and important differences.

How we built it

Destigmatizing was built using Block on MIT App Inventor. We spent the Fall researching and outlining, and began working on the functional app around the winter holidays. We had a rough draft by the middle of January, and a final product and presentation by mid-March. Lydia focused on the POC section while Lindsay was in charge of the Women and LGBTQ+ sections. Lydia was in charge of finalizing and checking the code and the app, and fixed any bugs. Lindsay was in charge of the presentation and visual aesthetic of the app.

Challenges we ran into

Our biggest challenge was communication. In a virtual world it is difficult to communicate with a team and know that everyone knows what to do and how to do it. It took a lot of trust and was a learning experience for everyone. We also found that teaching ourselves how to code is not an easy task. Creating the app took a lot of dedication, practice, trial and error, and sheer determination to complete a task.

What I learned

We learned that it is okay to not complete everything you hoped for. Les Brown said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it you will land among the stars.” That really applies here. We aimed high and had big goals. Unfortunately, but perhaps predictably, we were not able to include every single thing we initially wanted to, but because we aimed high, our final product is strong and will benefit many people. We also learned how to work as a virtual team. We learned what forms of contact work best for different people, and how to work around team members’ schedules so that everything gets done on time and in high quality.

What's next for Destigmatizing Healthcare

In the future we want to expand our individual sections to include more information and more personal services. Specifically, we’d like to introduce a section on ovarian and uterine cancer, which is significantly more prominent in women of color than white women. We would also like to include testimonials and stories from members of the LGBTQ+ community on things such as coming out, and what their identity means to them. One of our most high-reaching goals is to eventually include a period-tracker to help menstruaters understand their periods and be able to catch potential problems early.

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