According to Charlotte Ogalesco and Lindsay Krahn, one of the best things about working together on a Workplace Innovation team is actually working together. While both are third year Health Studies students, it wasn’t until they and their partners Caleb Williams and Sarah Berdowski were put together on a team that they actually met one another. Now they say, “We’ve bonded as a team.”
And perhaps there is a chicken and egg quality to this relationship-building and the nature of their venture, My Mentor Plus, which helps people living with disabilities be less alone.
Late in the summer, the group—then individuals—participated in a Discovery Lab looking at pain points with KidsAbility, a community organization that supports children with disabilities. One broad issue KidsAbility raised was the challenging transition process as youth moved from receiving child services to navigating the adult system without support. KidsAbility had begun to consider a mentorship program where slightly older alumni of KidsAbility were partnered with youth as they began transitioning to adulthood. “In the interviews we did, we kept hearing that youth feel a lack of support in the transition process and we believe that peer mentorship is that missing piece. This seemed like a good fit for us,” says Lindsay.
The team began working with KidsAbility to develop an e-learning platform for people with physical disabilities with the goal of connecting them to a mentor and providing resources for the mentor and the client.
The team recently received $1000 from GreenHouse’s Social Impact Fund, which will help them as they build the app, but they said that the feedback they received from the judges was equally valuable. “We knew there were gaps in our thinking, but having judges and mentors articulate this helped us tremendously,” says Charlotte. In fact, the team is very appreciative of the partnership with GreenHouse through the entire process. Lindsay says, “At the beginning, they helped us figure out what to work on, how we should go about that process, some direction on where to start. Along the way, they have given us good feedback which is why we are able to be at this stage now with a possible solution.”
“It may sound cliched,” Charlotte says, “but as a health studies student, I care about people and want to help them out. Sometimes we can’t help, but for us to build something that creates a big impact, I feel honoured to help them out.”
Congratulations to My MentorPlus for securing $1,000 in funding from the Social Impact Fund to further build and test its solution. Thank-you to Sanofi Genzyme for its generous support in sponsoring these funds to support youth-led innovation in the health and wellbeing space. Sanofi Genzyme’s financial contributions aim to make a positive impact on patients and communities globally.