Our project is titled "Hey, Pearl!", which sounds like "Hey, Girl!", since our mobile app is tailored toward womxn-users. When an oyster goes through adversity and challenges, it metamorphoses into a pearl. Plus, women can be alluded to as pearls, as they are precious, beautiful, and strong, inside and out. Our logo is even made up of the different letters of our project title, inspired by a home's design, which fits our community-based women helping women concept!
Our team name is Empearl(ed), since we are a group of empowered women, but enjoy some puns. Moreover, we included a part-past tense in parenthesis, because we are, have been, and will always be empowered.
As the mental health crisis among individuals has worsened over the past decade, studies have shown that the pre-existing gender gap in mental health, with women worse affected than men, has widened throughout the pandemic. The lockdown measures of the COVID-19 pandemic have led to an increase in loneliness and emotional decline, on top of the enormous economic impact on women, which also disproportionately affected women with financial insecurity increasing dramatically*.
We wanted to create an app that combated the drastic mental health effects the pandemic has had on women. We wanted to support women on an empowering level, in order to boost confidence and self-esteem. Affirmations are positive statements that can help someone challenge and overcome their negative or even neutral thoughts. The inspirational messages improve stress management and can be used to set goals. For example, an affirmation like, "I am strong and powerful, and I will practice yoga for more peace," can be used to uplift and goal-set. So, we sought to incorporate the ability to customize or choose from affirmations and goal statements within the app.
However, we also wanted to combat loneliness and promote well-being. So, we examined how communication, among even strangers on the internet, could dilute the feeling of loneliness. Furthermore, we researched how women's networks boost happiness, fulfillment, and general well-being**. So, we sought to create an app that allows women to be paired with other women based on shared interests. Furthermore, we wanted to combine our idea of chats with goal-setting affirmations. Our chats are designed to match women with similar goals and interests, for example, fitness or career goals, so they can motivate and support each other with their daily and weekly goals.
What it does
We have a mobile app prototype, which includes a home screen that allows the user to input your screen name, and select their interests. We originally wanted to put in a lot more, but we spent most of the hackathon learning new skills rather than debugging. See the 'What's Next' section for our future plans!
How we built it
After setting up the GitHub repo, we coded in VS Code using dart, kotlin, swift, and some HTML. We primarily worked with dart, working on flutter. On flutter, we made the app's main home screen with the interest sections, and also the chat screen. The chat screen is still buggy, but we tried! We played with firebase too and tried to implement authentication on the log-in screen of the app (also buggy and not user-accessible).
Challenges we ran into
All of us are relatively new to hackathons and coding generally, so it was a challenge to scope out a project we could realistically do with our experiences, while still learning new skills along the way. To make this even more challenging, we were all in completely different time zones (PST, CET, INT). Still, as we went through workshops, googled nonstop, stack overflowed, gave mini-tutorials, and supported each other, we learned a lot along the way.
Firebase was particularly tricky to figure out. We weren't able to add in any authentication because we couldn't register our app (we did not have an iOS bundle ID). However, we did input some firebase code for future setup.
Flutter was also difficult to figure out at first, but we still learned a lot more than we could imagine. We were all new to flutter, so adding in widgets and editing our mobile app was challenging. However, we did make some progress to show our new skills!
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Having a UI! We weren't even sure we would have any client-facing screen with our code, so even having it made us proud. On top of this, we worked to make it really pretty, and even added in some gradient!
What we learned
We learned a lot about more complicated programs like flutter and firebase. However, we were all beginners, so even getting through using GitHub, VS Code, and our Command-Line was a great learning experience.
What's next for We're InPearl
In the future, we plan on adding in more screens through flutter, especially in making our chat screen available for users. We also plan on adding a log-on screen (which includes sign up, sign in, log out) which would be authenticated via firebase (which we also plan on implementing better). We also plan on adding in more graphic design features, including a logo, animations of widgets, and a color scheme. We also plan on adding in a new feature that allows our users to have a consultation with a mental health professional if need be. Finally, we plan on adding in the feature and page for affirmation and goal-setting. We didn't have enough time to add this at this time, but these features will be critical updates to our project soon.
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