Inspiration & The Problem

In DeisHacks last year, one of our team members and an alumni of the BTPA shared with us an extremely impactful story in which he watched his friend get stabbed after having graduated.

Not having left his house in over a week and feeling scared and alone, he shared with us that in his eyes, his being at DeisHacks potentially saved his life.

This truly highlighted the need for a tool that allowed BTPA alumni to not only reach out to their officer mentors when they feel trapped and are maybe uncomfortable calling 911. It also highlighted the need to provide resources that allow current and graduated students to take the first step towards taking control of their lives.

The most pressing challenges we hope to solve are providing mechanisms in which: mentors and mentees can connect mid-session and after program end; the robustness of our organization's impact measurement data is improves while simultaneously reinforcing the theme of the students investing in self-measurement practices; students can have quick access to all the forms a struggling young adult might need for themselves and/or their communities.

What it does

The app includes a wellness tracker, local event listing, forms, mentorship, and resources:

a. Wellness Tracker – Users will input their sit up, push up, kilometers ran count, along with water intake. b. Event Listing – Utilizing RSS feeds from local Boston resources that push local events happening around the Greater Boston area. c. Forms – Links to all the forms students need, all in one place. Forms could include tax, employment, identification forms d. Survey – A general mental and physical wellness survey. Before that app, the BTPA could only collect this info twice, at the start of the class, and 6 weeks later at the end. They can now collect responses at will, beyond the time limits of the class. e. Mentorship – Connect mentors and mentees on a more regular basis. Users can post messages, post to a wall, and keep in touch. All posts will have the ability to be done anonymously. f. Resources – These include mental and physical health, safety, college prep, addiction, food insecurity links to help students and beyond help themselves.

How we built it

The BTPA app utilizes JavaScript, Node.js, React Native, and AWS RDS. In back-end development, we created a custom API from scratch, utilized visual studio code, structured our database with SQL workbench, and other developer packages. We created a front-end mobile UI using react native and ARGON framework. We started with a wireframe template and customized it to make a model out features the BTPA would find valuable and then built it out.

Challenges we ran into

We thought the app development process would be quicker and smoother. The biggest problem we ran into was meshing back end and front end architecture . We developed the API with react and the mobile UI with React Native, and getting them to work well together took more time than we thought. Additionally, since framework development took so long, we had to cut down on some expected features due to time constraints.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We're extremely proud of just having developed a working application for such a impactful organization. We had never utilized our skills (as a team) for real-world application and this is a huge accomplishment. We are also proud of our communication and how well we worked together as a team, we realized each one of our strengths complemented another's weakness, so we were surprisingly efficient.

What we learned

We learned a lot about the resources most ADULTS don't realize they have access to. A lot of important topics needed to be studied, like: how impact organizations measure impact, what the kids find to be the biggest problems in their lives and how they cope with those problems, a lot of research on mental health practices and physical education. On the development side we learned how to utilize the skills we've learned in class for real world impact and how to solve problems we faced without having the safety net of a class grade.

What's next for The BTPA Community Companion

Our next priorities for the BTPA Community Companion would we adding the functionalities that we had to drop. These include: a data measurement dashboard for the organization, so officers can easily track individual and organization-wide impact; a van tracker so students and parents can have the ability to see where each of the 3 morning and evening vans are located on their respective routes; being able to create an account and log-in; being able to request private chat with mentors; and expanding upon our mental and physical health initiatives through a journal function that mentors have access to.

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