Rising Deerfield High Senior promotes happiness and well-being in the app

DEERFIELD, IL — Cole Gawin understands he’s certainly not alone in experiencing more stress and anxiety in the past two years than high school students in the past have endured in their formative years. .

But after coping with remote and blended learning, a host of COVID-19 restrictions, and other pandemic-related stressors since her sophomore year at Deerfield High School, Gawin realized that if he was experiencing pandemic-related negativity and mental difficulties, there were almost certainly other students who knew exactly what he was dealing with.

It was then that Gawin developed the Well Mobile App – a tool designed to help students, as well as working professionals, find more positivity in their lives at a time when joy can be paramount in the everyday world.

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Following the app’s launch in spring 2021, Well has been downloaded over 5,000 times by users and received the stamp of approval from mental health professionals in a project that has had an earth-shattering effect on well- to be from Gawin.

For Gawin, who will soon be entering his final year at Deerfield High, devoting countless hours to developing and improving the app has not been an easy journey. Whether conducting research on positive psychology or contacting local therapists and other mental health professionals to verify his findings, Gawin has developed a helpful mobile destination that he hopes will users free access to valuable tips and keys to finding a healthier lifestyle.

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The Well mobile app has been downloaded over 5,000 times since its launch in spring 2021. (Courtesy Cole Gawin)

And what started with a Ted Talk about how professionals need to get away from their daily stresses and take more time for themselves inspired Gawin to use his programming and graphic design to create the app to improve the mindset of students like him.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gawin found himself embarking on a project he admits he never expected to take off like he did. He found himself and his family coping in their own way with the effects of quarantine, which rekindled his passion for wanting to make a positive change.

And as they say, there’s an app for that – or at least there is now thanks to Gawin’s work over the past two years.

“I didn’t originally have big plans or intentions to develop (the app) or explore new avenues to get people to download the app and start using it,” Gawin told Patch on Wednesday.

“But I realized it could really have a positive impact on my community and communities across the country and around the world, that we’re all struggling with the pandemic and the stress and the feeling of being overwhelmed that we all feel. .”

Gawin built the app around five landmarks, which his research suggests could help users find more happiness. Activities of performing acts of gratitude, acts of kindness, reflective journaling, exercise, and meditation when done daily could help eliminate stress and produce more happiness, he discovered.

The Well mobile app guides users through a series of five simple steps to help them discover more happiness. (Courtesy of Cole Gawin)

He specifically targeted his classmates as the audience he connects with most effectively. After dealing with his own stress and anxiety over the past two years, Gawin said he wanted to create a tool that would resonate with users his age and needed a break from the negativity and all they had to. manage since the beginning of the pandemic.

Gawin hopes the Well app is a coping mechanism for students who may not feel comfortable seeking help from a therapist while dealing with some of the stigma that exists in adolescence. coping with stress and anxiety.

“I feel like the pandemic has had such disastrous effects on mental health that it’s so important for us to now be aware and almost hyper-aware of our mental health and not be afraid to ‘talking about it and talking to people and getting help when we need it,’ Gawin said.

The app is designed to be interactive and allows users to experience an individualized path to finding their own happiness and addressing their own mental health needs, Gawin said. The key, however, was to make the app available to everyone at no cost to ensure that anyone who needed to find more positivity could do so without any restrictions.

Gawin has worked with universities such as DePaul, University of Chicago, Rice University, and Carnegie Mellon to get schools to implement the Well app in their respective college programs. For Gawin, who won a COVID-19 Hackathon competition developing the app, it hasn’t been easy to reach out to academics and mental health professionals in an unsolicited way.

But for someone who calls himself an introvert, building and pitching the app to professionals took Gawin on a journey of self-discovery he never expected.

He is currently working on translating the application into several different languages, which would allow users on the North Shore and elsewhere to use the tool. With the number of downloads and monthly users increasing since the launch of the Well app, Gawin now hopes it can reach a wider audience who may still be struggling with anxiety now over 2 and a half years ago. after the start of the pandemic.

Her message is simple: taking small, calculated steps can make a big difference when repeated daily and turn baby steps into major life changes.

“It’s not so easy for people to go ‘How can I be more positive?’ or “How can I have a better outlook on life?”

“We’ve all been so overwhelmed with feelings of negativity that it’s important to focus on the positives in life. So I hope people feel more positive and have a better mindset and outlook. more positive life after using the application, as this is the main goal throughout the development process.”

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About Shirley A. Tamayo

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