Ayana DeSears

According to Zoe King, writer for Nami Wake County, social isolation can “cause or exacerbate mental health conditions.” Having finished their five-month summer break, students are returning to school in person or by computer. For the first time in history, half the United States students are receiving a virtual education. However, studies are now showing that lack of social interaction has a mental impact on virtual learning students. These impacts bring increased anxiety, depression, or social discomfort.  Being a student of virtual learning, I can relate firsthand to these effects. After the first two weeks of the virtual school year, I found myself having trouble putting together sentences when speaking to people, and I struggled with eye contact. I often felt despondent because I spent more time on the computer per day than anything else, and I missed spending time with my friends and family.

My idea of a database that could save the next generation is called Balance. Balance is a multipurpose program that helps virtually learning students in grades K-12 maintain mental, social, and physical health throughout the school year. This balance of the different aspects of health can help students reach their maximum potential in school, and as a person. Balance is a virtual app that gives students alerts on their phones whenever they need to take a 10-minute break from school and spend time on themselves. These alerts could be as simple as, “Do five push-ups,” “Eat some fruit,” “Call your friend and say hello,” “Meditate,” “Take a nap,” and many more. When the 10 minutes are complete, their phones will be alerted again to get back to work with an inspiring message or quote to help them continue. These 10-minute opportunities can keep students motivated and efficient enough to refrain from taking three-hour breaks and not completing assignments on time. Additionally, the students will have the chance to experience new activities each week. This will prevent students from getting bored with the same break ideas and ignoring their breaks. The program would also keep a log of their activities and give them data showing their mental, physical, and social improvement over time. These data updates are given in the form of a notification, boosting their self-esteem and driving them to have a positive outlook on their virtual situation. The ultimate goal is to help students excel in all levels of mental, social, and physical health.

I would implement Balance by creating a website that provides the goal, updated break ideas, a feedback section, funding opportunities, and how to get involved. The homepage would contain a downloadable link for the Balance app, and the goal: to better student life through different levels of health. Updated break ideas would be where students can recommend break ideas that would benefit one of the three aspects of health, which would be reviewed weekly to update the app. The feedback section provides an opportunity for students, parents, and other participants to offer their opinion on what they think is going well, what is going poorly, and how to improve the program. And the funding section would be a way for participants to donate and contribute to the continuity of Balance. Finally, the getting involved section would explain ways to spread the word about Balance and how to put out information to support the Balance name. The target is the students, especially virtually educated students. I would email the link to my teachers, past counselors, and principal to solve one of the many problems that arise during online schooling. Based on their feedback, I will then communicate ways to fund and create an app that achieves the goal and meets as many ideas as possible. This program would support not only the incoming generation but the generations to come as well. School can be challenging, and online school doesn’t make things better. Still, by recognizing the struggles that students face in their day to day lives, Balance could make their educational experiences more tolerable and potentially save lives.

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