Inspire USA Announces Winners for Reach Out’s National ‘Don’t Just Stand By’ Teen Facebook App Developer Competition
For Immediate Release June 20, 2012
The Inspire USA Foundation, the non-profit organization behind the youth mental health site ReachOut.com, with the support of the ESA Foundation, today announced the winners of the National “Don’t Just Stand By” Teen Facebook App Developer Competition. This competition called on teens 13-18 to create a Facebook app that will help inform and empower potential bystanders of cyberbullying to take action. The winners are Timothy Mullican, 15, of Huntsville, Alabama, Zahair Chaudhry, 15 of Hinesburg, Vermont, and Alexa Alpern, 18, of Ocean City, Maryland.
Cyberbullying continues to be a challenging issue for teens and young adults happening through email, chat rooms, online social networking, instant messaging and web pages. Cyberbullying can happen to anyone, and the bully can act anonymously. People can also be bullied online by groups of people, such as classmates or members of an online community. First place winner, Timothy Mullican’s app, addresses these issues with a search engine that targets cyberbullying key words and phrases within “friend’s” Facebook activity. Once these words are found, the “victim” or “bystander” can report these findings to Facebook, ReachOut, or even a local adult.
These inspiring young programmers each created an app that:
- Focuses on people aged 16-24 who would be potential bystanders to cyberbullying in online spaces/communities
- Increases understanding of what cyberbullying is and the role of bystanders
- Empowers young people to want to make online spaces/communities more positive and safe for everyone
- Includes a specific call-to-action for potential bystanders
- Focuses on the positive, do not use negative language or triggering images depicting cyberbullying, self harm or suicide that could re-traumatize victims/survivors
“Based on our submission guidelines and feedback from the Inspire USA/ReachOut youth council, we are excited to announce Timothy as our winner. We think he has lots of programming promise and will benefit tremendously from being mentored by a professional software developer,” said Anastasia Goodstein, Director of Digital Programs for the Inspire USA Foundation. “We also appreciate the valuable commitment and support of the ESA Foundation for helping make this competition possible.”
Each winner will receive a cash prize as well as virtual mentorship from a professional software developer.
- Timothy Mullican, First Place, will receive $2,000 plus five hours of virtual mentorship
- Zuhair Chaudhry, Second Place, will receive $1500 and one hour of virtual mentorship
- Alexa Alpern, Third Place will receive $500 and one hour of virtual mentorship
While all of the winners are dedicated to helping stop cyberbullying, each programmer’s different background added uniqueness to their entries.
First place winner, Timothy Mullican, is no stranger to programming – he created his first app when he was in the sixth grade! Timothy just finished his ninth grade year at Westminster Christian Academy. Per Timothy, “I created my app so those who are being cyberbullied would have an easy way to identify and report offensive posts among their Facebook friends.” Winning this contest is just the beginning as Timothy’s career goal is to be an Information Security specialist for private industry or the U.S. Government.
Second place winner, Zuhair Chaudry attends Champlain Valley Union High School. Zuhair’s app focuses on pledges Facebook users can make – both by telling an adult about a cyberbullying occurrence and/or writing a supportive post in those who have been cyberbullied.
The sole female winner, Alexa Alpern, just graduated from Stephen Decatur High School and is an award winning, Olympic training figure skater. Alexa plans to follow her passion for technology as Computer Animation major at Edinboro University this fall. Alexa’s app comes in the form of a video game asking players to respond to mock cyberbullying offenses in a chat room setting.
Programmers will be matched with mentors according to the type of app they develop. Inspire USA partnered with Teens in Tech Labs, which provides tools and resources to young entrepreneurs worldwide to help encourage entrepreneurship at a young age, to help promote the competition.
ReachOut.com is an initiative of the Inspire USA Foundation (www.inspireusafoundation.org), which is a national organization with a mission of helping millions of young people lead happier lives. Reachout.com is a safe, supportive community where teens and young adults can learn about mental health issues, read and contribute real life stories, and find resources to get help. Reach Out can also be found on twitter @ReachOutInUSA.