The inaugural Hack4Health (H4H) took place in September 2015 at the University of Waterloo, hosted by the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences and the Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program. This event was created out of a desire to help those living with degenerative neurological conditions, namely, multiple sclerosis (MS) and dementia.
H4H is an event like no other, where participants come up with creative solutions for everyday challenges that people living with MS or dementia face. They have a unique opportunity to learn first hand from individuals living with dementia or MS about the day–to-day challenges they face (through mentorship from people with lived experience). Thanks to the motivational speakers at the hackathon, opportunities to share ideas through a World Café process, and the mentors who provide their lived experience and technical expertise, participants are able to take an idea and create prototypes and real workable solutions in just two days.
There is great potential for real world impact and commercialization of new products through the prizes awarded to participants (over $10,000 in prizes and opportunities for mentorship in leading organizations). Also, participants take home an understanding of the life experiences and day-to-day challenges faced by those living with MS or dementia. During the hackathon, participants will meet with their team members and be exposed to informative knowledge to give them a kick-start in envisioning potential ideas. It is through our organizations and this event that we can influence how people view those living with degenerative neurological conditions and ultimately reduce the stigma and misunderstanding associated with these conditions.