An Illawarra high school student has taken her award-winning mental health initiative to the world.
Last Tuesday Marci Davis-Cook, a Year 8 student at The Illawarra Grammar School (TIGS), competed on the world stage with a website and app aimed at improving the mental health of volunteer fire fighters.
The 14-year-old won the national level of the Future Problem Solving competition last October with her 'uOkmate?' project.
On June 8 Marci competed for the international title via an online interview with judges in America.
She spoke to the Mercury beforehand about her "passion" project.
"I'm so excited to take my local project to the international stage, although it's a shame I can't actually be in America this year," Marci said.
Marci developed "uOKmate?" after the devastating 2019-20 bushfires, to help improve the uptake of mental health services by volunteer firefighters.
"I was inspired by a conversation I had with my uncle, who works for the RFS, about how firefighters are not just involved in fighting fires, they are often needed to respond to car accidents and other critical incidents where their mental health is at risk," she said.
According to the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS), there are almost 80,000 RFS volunteers but only 3331 (or 4 per cent) accessed the mental health services in 2019, despite a wide range of different services being available.
"uOKmate?" streamlines the delivery of those services, providing easy access to them, general well-being information and interactive reminders all in one place, via a simple smart phone app or website.
I'm hoping that my app and website will make a big difference in the number of volunteers accessing help and information to improve their mental health.Marci Davis-Cook
"I'm hoping that my app and website will make a big difference in the number of volunteers accessing help and information to improve their mental health," Marci said.
"I'm also hoping it can help other organisations both here and around the world, because it can be easily tailored and adapted to their specific needs."
The Future Problem Solving Program International competition aims to develop critical and creative thinking skills in young people to solve global and community.
"uOKmate" competed in the Community Issues Problem Solving Individual division of the competition.
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