A group of four students from Milpitas High School has won big thanks to their program designed to help students with anxiety relax.
TramAhn Nguyen, Tiffany Hyde, Lauren Le and Jason Rojas Pacheco created Azalea, a virtual game designed for students struggling with mental health issues such as obsessive compulsive disorder or anxiety, or those who are chronically stressed. Working as Tangoe Games, Inc., the quartet of students created the game around the azalea flower, which symbolizes healing.
Gardening games are designed to provide a relaxing experience that allows users to direct their thoughts towards successful gardening. Azalea also provides users with coping mechanisms, such as reminders to drink water or stretch, while tending to their gardens.
“The peaceful environment is designed to calm the user and reduce stress,” the students explain in their video submission to the KnoPro Technology Inclusion Challenge. They want to feel safe and comfortable while playing. … Players will be encouraged to go outside and see the outdoors to cultivate their garden. “
Azalea’s team raised $2,000 from the challenge, which was organized by the non-profit organization Name a Future (NAF) and KnoPro, the free NAF, an online platform where students can solve real problems and compete to win big cash prizes and scholarships.
In partnership with Lenovo, the Technology Inclusion Challenge challenged students ages 13 and up to develop a creative idea that engages peers who may be underrepresented in traditional education, including those with disabilities.
For Azalea’s team, creating the program helped them address their concerns about the needs of high school students.
“Every day I’m very tired, and I want to work hard at school, but I’m under a lot of pressure and I don’t know how to stop,” he said in one of the videos. “My grades are really low, and I feel helpless.”
Members of the group say the program is designed for high school students struggling with mental illness to get “the help they need and deserve.”
“We wanted an app that could be used as a way to reduce stress and promote better ways to help people deal with depression,” said one team member in the video.
Data from the CDC shows the importance of such facilities. In 2022, the CDC reported that 44 percent of high school students they surveyed said they suffered from a mental illness during the pandemic or felt less well in the following year.
“A program like Azalea can bring positive results that students need,” says one team member.