1. What is your innovation story?
Selfling Teen Support Foundation was founded to help bring mobile technology to work for vulnerable young people who deal with a number of issues like family, relationships, culture, gender, and bullying, which all can inevitably effect their mental health.
In the summer of 2014, our founder, James Higgins, discovered a shirt in a storefront that said “DRINK BLEACH”. Intended or not, this T-shirt placement worked to actively stigmatize bullied teens, teen mental illness, and not to mention the family of Amanda Todd, the Port Coquitlam teen who attempted suicide by drinking bleach. Amanda, sadly, would not survive her next attempt.
It is this kind of stigma, the fear and shame surrounding how much we all have in common in our weakness and how dependent we are on others that inspired Selfling. Selfling is the reaction to how we treat illness, weakness, isolation, and how we generally treat others. Selfling is the answer to the question “Is there no way to use social media technology to help empower the youth using it?”
We had a chat and messaging app built by local developer, App Guys Inc., to help teens discuss their challenges and the things that matter most to them because over 90% of teens are on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat and 85% of them are smart phone ready by grade 11. The Selfling app is a way to help augment the message of existing agencies and actually features the the ability for teen support agencies to register and engage with teens. The Sefling app is accessible by teens everywhere on iOS with an Android version dropping soon.
2. Do you follow a sustainable development agenda (for people, planet and prosperity) in your company/business?
The Selfling Teen Support Foundation falls in line with a couple of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals but most specificly number 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. This goal aligns best with teen mental health and the risks of isolation that so many young people deal with every day. Selfling believes that this is the primary area to begin empowering young people – globally – as so many of them are already online. Further, our model is meant to work with teen support agencies to amplify and enhance their services, not duplicate them, which can be problematic and confusing for young people.
3. If your enterprise could have a global application, what is your vision for transforming the planet?
Selfling is already global! The Selfling app is on the App Store for iOS devices and Android soon. Our vision is to inspire a new culture where young people talk with each other, and with support agencies, more about how they can work together in an increasingly connected world, in spite of the division that we seem to encounter on a daily basis. By creating safe monitored spaces in mobile technology for teens to find out how much they have in common, we can help them realize and harness their leadership power at a younger age, creating a world of renewed possibility.
Learn more about how Selfling is creating an impact!
Come visit them September 14 at TECHSTOCK 2017