This week, Apple is hosting its annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) and several talented young people will be attending via the WWDC Scholarship program. One such scholarship recipient is fifteen-year-old Amanda Southworth who is among the youngest to attend the conference.
Amanda has been teaching herself to code for nearly six years now, and at the age of 12, she decided to leave public school and start homeschooling so she could concentrate more on coding. Her apps have a unique focus based on a strong motivation to help people.
Amanda’s first app was called Anxiety Helper, which provides resources for young people facing mental health issues. The app gives advice for depression, anxiety, and panic attacks, as well as tools for recovery and moments of crisis including hotlines to call. Amanda says:
Basically it’s just to make your life easier because dealing with mental illness as it is sucks. This app is kind of reaching out and saying ‘hey, I’m sorry you’re in this predicament but I want to help make this better.’
Her second app also aims to help young people but with a focus on the LGBTQ community. The app is called Verena, which is German for “protector.” It’s meant to help keep LGBTQ members safe by providing tools and resources in times of crisis. Through the app, users are able to find police stations, hospitals, shelters, and other places of refuge in times of need. They can also put together a list of contacts to be alerted in the case of an emergency. Conscious of the fact that not all young people are open with their families about their sexual identity, the app has an incognito mode to disguise itself as a tool for math homework. Pretty clever!