There are some amazing kids and teens inventing some incredible things that will leave you wondering, “Why didn't I think of that?" Lucky for these kids and teens, they did.
Perhaps even more importantly, they have family and friends who believed in them and supported them, enabling them to turn their wild ideas into impressive realities. Getting inside the heads of these inventors ranging in age from seven to seventeen is a truly interesting ride. If you're game, read on, for a tiny peek inside the minds of some very clever up and comers.
When you're in distress, even writing a text or making a phone call to get help, may feel beyond impossible. That's what inspired Teen siblings, Hannah and Charlie Lucas, to create notOK App, “a digital panic button to get immediate support from a trusted group of pre-selected people." It's designed for teens and adults alike, anyone who may be suffering from loneliness, anxiety, depression, stress, suicidal thoughts, or the like. Users tap the app's notOK button and a text message will be sent to up to 5 pre-selected contacts that reads: "Hey, I'm not OK. Please call me, text me, or come find me," along with a link to their current GPS location.
"Hannah and Charlie Lucas created notOK App™, 'a digital panic button to get immediate support from a trusted group of pre-selected people.'" Photo Courtesy of notOK App™
1. What lead you to launch the app?
Hannah: Last year I received a diagnosis of POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome). If I stood/sat up too quickly, the blood drains from my head and pools to my feet causing me to faint. I was scared to do certain things because of the “What if's". I missed practically 200 classes due to my condition, and I became “That Girl" to everyone at school. The fear of not knowing when I'd pass out mixed with the rumors circulating around school caused me to spiral into depression.
It got so bad that I would cut myself and I was even bulimic at one point. Then one night, my mom found me crying while cutting myself in my room. She held me while both of us cried and in the middle of that chaos, I cried out “I wish there was an app where I can press a button and it will send a message with my GPS location to my friends telling them that I'm notOK". And just like that, the notOK app was born.
Charlie: Seeing my sister struggle for so long and not being able to help her was one of the worst feelings imaginable. When she told me her idea for the app, I jumped at the chance to finally be able to help her, and now, through the app, I'm able to help many more people.
2. Do you believe social media causes depression?
Hannah: I believe we place too much emphasis on being perfect on social media—perfect skin, perfect hair, perfect natural twist-outs, perfect body, perfect teeth. It's overwhelming. I'm not sure it leads to depression, but it can definitely mess with your head and your perception of yourself. I know for me, I'd compare myself to all of the gorgeous people on Instagram, with their perfect lives, and that made me feel horrible. Like, maybe I didn't matter or my life would never be worth anything.
Everyone needs a social media break to realize the pics online are never real. They're covered in filters or photoshopped or even taken up to 20 times to get the right angles.
3. What do you hope to achieve with the app?
Hannah: I want to make sure everyone who needs help can access it easily. I felt alone and I don't want anyone feeling that way.
Charlie: I'd like to be able to develop more apps and have a real business.
4. What are your plans for expansion?
Hannah: I want notOK to be global.
Charlie: Our plans for expansion are to expand into other languages and other countries.
5. With the country focused on school shootings and not much talk about the reason / mental illness behind them, will notOK help to combat that
Hannah: Hmmm…. gun control debate aside, notOK App will help kids and adults get help before they go into crisis stage. Let's face it, it's hard to ask for help. It's hard to admit you're not perfect. notOK can make tough conversations easier. First, when you're adding your trusted contacts, it leads to a conversation about why you're adding them in the first place.
Twelve-year-old Alina Morse has invited a candy that fights cavities. It's called Zolli Candy, The After You Eat Treat and include Zollipops, Zolli Drops, and Zaffi Taffy. Morse's Zolli Candy is a natural, gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, vegan and non-GMO lollipop, containing the healthy sugar alternatives xylitol and erythritol and certified sugar-free by Sugarwise. By helping raise the mouth's pH, Zolli Candy neutralizes acid and helps reduce the risk of tooth decay, dental caries, and future development of cavities. She's even stared the "1 Million Smiles" campaign that “gives away her all-natural candies to schools and dentists who promote oral health education."
In her own words, Morse describes Zolli candy as “yummy, natural treats…take away the energy from those little monsters that cause cavities and help teeth re-mineralize faster. While researching ingredients to make Zollipops we discovered that childhood tooth decay was the greatest epidemic facing kids in America. Changing that statistic, and helping more Kids smile with Zolli's 1 Million Smiles Initiative became our goal and mission with Zollipops."
1. What lead you to create Zolli Candy?
Morse - I went to the bank with my Dad one day, and the teller offered me a sucker. I love candy! And was tired of hearing "No, that's too much sugar!" from my parents. So I asked, "Why can't we make a lollipop that is good for you?" And after 100 times of asking, and tons of research, and experiments at home and later in plants, Zollipops were born.
2. Why do you think people will be interested in Zolli Candy?
Almost everyone loves to give something sweet or to eat something sweet. Kids love the taste. Moms love that they are sugar-free and free from the major allergens. Grandparents love to give something, and not get into trouble for it. Dentists love to help people smile. Teachers love to reward great behavior, and Zolli is one of the few treats allowed in classrooms today.
3. How do you think Zolli Candy can help people?
Morse - Zolli Candy is created by kids and shows that Kids really can do anything that adults can do. Zolli candy helps inspire and educate kids about science, oral health, and entrepreneurship. Most parents know how tough it is to get kids to brush their teeth or do many things. Zollipops can be a great reward or incentive, as well as a healthy treat. Dentists and teachers can share Zollipops and help kids and families smile.
"Twelve-year-old Alina Morse has invited a candy that fights cavities." Photo Courtesy of Zolli Candy
Small business, offices, and banks often have a candy jar, why not give your customers something really healthy? And for anyone with sugar issues, like diabetes, they can have Zolli candy.
4. What are your plans for expansion?
Morse - We are very fortunate to be in Walmart, Kroger and on Amazon, but there are many places we can expand to, both stores, dentist offices, schools, even the military for active duty to use while on deployment. We also are exporting to several countries and seeking to sell more Zolli Candy globally.
5. Why don't you think anyone has created something like Zolli Candy before?
Morse - There were sugar-free xylitol pops before us, but they used too much xylitol, melted and had a short shelf life. We kept innovating to make Zollipops the best! We made them natural, used better ingredients and improved the process so that Zolli Candy would last for years just like its sugary counterpart and could be shipped all over the world. Sometimes you just have to ask the right questions, keep asking, believe and never give up!
"Harper Miller is the seven-year-old inventor of the Dream Pillow. She designed it to help her little brother who was wrangling with having bad dreams again and again."Photo Courtesy of Harper Miller
Harper Miller is the seven-year-old inventor of the Dream Pillow. She designed it to help her little brother who was wrangling with having bad dreams again and again. Up to 50 percent of kids have nightmares bad enough to concern their parents according to ClevelandClinic.org. Miller would help her little brother come up with happy things to dream about, and it worked. Not surprising since this visualization technique is well known for replacing bad dreams with good ones. In fact, there is a therapeutic technique called Image Rehearsal therapy that is 90 percent effective (according to a popular study by Barry Krakow & Antonio Zadra) when kids think about “positive ideas" before bed for two to four weeks.
Miller says the pillow is more like a stuffed animal to her. She explains, “I love it because I can bring it everywhere with me and makes me feel comfortable." She says it's really more than just a pillow because “it allows kids to realize they can be creative with their dreams. It's so cool to think we can learn to dream better dreams. Miller says the best part of the pillow is getting to spend time talking to her parents about the happy and imaginative dreams she “creates." Miller says her brother has the funniest dreams, “we laugh about them every morning."
The Dream Pillow comes along with a storybook and blank idea cards that encourage kids to, “write it down & dream it up." The storybook that accompanies the pillow is something that Miller's mom and a friend of Miller's mom wrote. Miller explains, “It doesn't say I'm the character. But you can see it looks just like me. It's really cute and funny, and it tells the story of a girl that turns bad dreams into good ones. I love stories before bed, and this one helps me to think of fun dreams to dream up."
1. What lead you to create this pillow?
Harper Miller - I created The Dream Pillow to help kids dream good dreams. My brother has scary nightmares, and my mom was talking to him about trading his worries for happy thoughts before bed, so I had this idea for him to use his imagination and make-up stories that he wanted to dream, like swimming with dolphins, being on a safari through a jungle, or flying like a superhero. Soon my mom and I were sewing a little pillow for him to tuck his dreams inside. He was able to start dreaming good dreams and we both realized that it so much fun, and no more nightmares!
Jenna Sellers Miller (Harper's mom) – It's true, I have no idea how to sew but my grandmother had given me a sewing machine that was growing dust in the attic, Harper was so excited about the idea we somehow figured it out. You should see the first “prototype" You can't find a right angle on the thing!
2. Why do you think kids have nightmares?
Harper Miller - Kids know a lot about what's happening in the world. My whole school just stood outside while a drone took a picture of us standing in a heart shape to send a message about school shootings. I think kids have nightmares from their fears. The best way I can think of to help other kids is to teach them to learn how to let happy thoughts be stronger than scary ones.
Jenna Sellers Miller - This breaks my heart. Now more than ever, kids have scary news coming at them from every angle no matter how we as parents try to keep it from getting to them, the best thing we can do is teach the power of the mind, and learning to quiet the messages that are not useful to their growth. I joke that Harper has invented the secret for kids.
3. How do you think this pillow will help kids?
Harper Miller - I think the pillow will help kids be more creative and imaginative. It will encourage them to be in control of their thoughts and think positively. I think the pillow will help parents learn to listen and be supportive of their kid's ideas. It allows kids to open up. Anyone can connect with the dream pillow and with the kids using it. Just like a teacher. A teacher can use the dream pillow to help kids learn to explore what makes them excited and how to share their funny dreams in the classroom.
I hope it helps kids be positive and never stop being creative! I also hope it helps kids have good dreams and no more nightmares.
4. What are your plans for expansion?
Jenna Sellers Miller - We are in talks with a few key retailers to introduce The Dream Pillow for the holiday season and our website is currently taking pre-orders at www.thedreampillow.com. There is some international excitement happening too. We've just signed a deal with a well-known distributor in Canada and we're talking to a few stores in the UK!! I keep reminding Harper that soon her pillow will be spreading positive thoughts throughout the whole world.
5. Why don't you think anyone has created this or another “nightmare- fixer before"?
Harper Miller - Maybe because people forget that we control our dreams. Kids sometimes feel scared to go to sleep but once they realize they can be in charge of their dreams, they'll be excited to go to bed.
Jenna Sellers Miller – It's really interesting. After we figured out it worked for our family, we did some research and found that there is a common therapeutic treatment for children with nightmares called Image Rehearsal Therapy where kids focus on happy thoughts before sleep, and if done consistently for two weeks or more has a 90 percent effectiveness rate in reducing nightmares! The power of the mind is incredible.
Fiona Frills is a fourteen-year-old girl who created the first beauty brand dedicated to “teen-prone" skin. Frills was struggling with disability and bullying. She felt isolated and so turned to social media for connection. She started a YouTube channel that now boasts over 4.5M views a month.
"Fiona Frills is a fourteen-year-old girl who created the first beauty brand dedicated to “teen-prone" skin." Photo Courtesy of Frilliance
Soon after creating the channel, Fiona began experiencing extreme teenage acne. This lead her to created Frilliance, her very own makeup and skincare line for “teen-prone skin." In a matter of hours, the line sold out completely. Each item, including lip glosses, illuminating cream, cream blush, and facial mist is non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic, fragrance-free and cruelty-free.
Frills explains that “being real, happy, and inspiring is what both Frilliance and my YouTube channels are all about." She wants to inspire teens by opening the door into her life as a teen. “Besides fashion and makeup videos," she explains. “I share my real life experiences of what a teen girl goes through – like first periods, tampons, wearing really high heels for the first time, eyebrow threading, and dealing with acne and pimples."
She believes that by sharing her experiences, she just might be able to make someone else's experience better and give them more confidence as they go through their life. “By being authentically me, I hope people will realize that they are not alone – we all go through it."
1. What lead you to create your YouTube channel and subsequently the Frilliance line?
I am legally blind in my left eye. With glasses, my vision and tracking improved, but my eye still doesn't work like everyone else's. Since I had trouble reading, I turned to watching YouTube videos instead of books and magazines for everything including makeup tips (I love all things makeup). I started to film my own DIY projects using the webcam on my MacBook. When I was 10 years old, my mom noticed my interest and asked if I wanted to start a YouTube channel as part of my homeschooling.
Make-up has always mesmerized me. My obsession with makeup grew and it became another form of art for me. Fast forward 3 years and I started breaking out with acne and pimples – full-on teen skin. I decided to research makeup ingredients to see if that could be the problem and guess what? I found that so many products use ingredients that can actually cause acne and pimples or make them worse. Inspired, I decided to start Frilliance and make products that actually help teen prone skin.
2. Why do you think people will be interested in your channel and in the Frilliance line?
Since I am my own target market, I know that teens want to see real, authentic brands and videos. We want to use social media (like my YouTube channels) to have a conversation and not be sold to. I am sharing my real life just about every day with my followers. They relate to teen life.
Frilliance is really me – I want to wear makeup (I love, LOVE makeup) and I don't want to have acne or breakouts. I know other teens feel the same. Frilliance isn't a private label; I started it from scratch and formulated my makeup line for what I call “teen-prone" skin, a kinder way to say “acne or pimple-prone skin." I never liked saying those words. I don't settle for just any formulations and I work with my lab to create products that work best for teen-prone. Makeup should be easy, affordable and at the same time not muck up your pores. I want teens to feel confident and happy when wearing Frilliance.
3. How do you think Frilliance can help teens?
Frilliance is dermatologist-tested, noncomedogenic and hypoallergenic. Noncomedogenic is a fancy (and ultra-important for teen-prone skin!) word that means not likely to cause comedones (or clogged pores).
I'm not sure the exact percent of teens that have breakouts or acne at some point but based on my friends and I it seems like just about all of us. On my social media, I get comments every day about Frilliance and feeling confident about using Frilliance products by teens. Parents want to buy products that help their teen prevent breakouts. Frilliance products are paraben-free, phthalates-free, cruelty-free, mineral oil-free, petroleum-free, and we never use sodium lauryl sulfate.
4. What are your plans for expansion?
For Frilliance, I am expanding the product line to include more of my favorite go-to products for a natural overall teen look. My ultimate goal is having Frilliance in Ulta and beauty stores everywhere. Ulta was my first makeup store experience - the minute I walked in I loved seeing the aisles and aisles of makeup. Stores like Ulta and Sephora need to carry more teen-targeted products. We are a huge underserved demographic. I couldn't find it in stores, so I decided to make it myself.
5. Why don't you think anyone has created something like Frilliance before?
Big brands generally rule the beauty landscape and it's not until recently that customers have changed – millennials and teens today really do care about what is in their beauty products and how it's tested. There are a few niche makeup brands where some products are non-comedogenic, but not all products are formulated non-comedogenic. Frilliance is the first brand made by a teen, marketed to teens and specifically formulated for teen-prone skin (non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic, and cruelty-free). I'm sure very soon we will start to see big brands catering more to the teen demographic.
With the rise of social media not necessarily helping this problem, Rayva has created an app that allows parents to communicate with their children in a more open way. Photo courtesy of Meagan Byrne
4th Grader, Rayva, knows that bully is a prominent issue in schools, the workplace, and even in home settings. With the rise of social media not necessarily helping this problem, Rayva has created an app that allows parents to communicate with their children in a more open way. The app allows parents to track and report any incidents that children might have with bullying.
1. What led you to create Bully Free?
Rayva knows firsthand what it's like to be the victim of bullying — she was only in kindergarten when she was pushed off benches and was hurt by some of her peers. At first, she was reluctant to say anything to anyone about the consistent bullying but then finally talked to her mom about it.
Because of her experiences, Rayva decided she wanted to be active in the fight against bullying and created an anti-bullying app to help others who find themselves in similar situations as she was.
2. Why do you think people will be interested in Bully Free?
“I think kids should know when not to be afraid and that they can tell adults," Rayva said.
“It's amazing and is a great communication tool," Rayva's 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Amanda Cooper, said. “It's very simple and [provides] the communication that's needed between parents and their children. I think it's important for people to recognize what bullying is, so those anti-bullying initiatives are a great start here because if you're a bully as a little kid, and nobody does anything about it, you become a grown-up bully, and we don't want that. So an app like this — especially when kids have to write when they've been bullied or feel sad — opens up the lines of communication."
3. How do you think Bully Free can help people?
The app allows children and their parents to track, monitor, and report bullying incidents that the students experience while at school. It provides an outlet for parents and their children to communicate about the moods and emotions the students experience each day. For instance, if a child feels sad, he or she can select the sad face to represent the current mood, and the parent can then make comments and ask questions as to why the student feels sad. Over time, the parent is able to see if the child is consistently having sad emotions, what's causing the moods, whether or not actual bullying is present, and how often any potential bullying is occurring.
4. What are your plans for expansion?
I would like raise funds in order to further develop the app from where it is at today and also increase awareness of the app by promoting the app at various schools in the area.
5. Tell us more about yourself.
I am 10 years old and have just completed 4th grade at Fairmont Private schools. My goal is to become President of the United States of America. I am very passionate about creating a bully-free environment at school and always looking for ways to help kids who might be in this situation. Fairmont has not only provided support of my idea, but has also encouraged me to pursue my dream. I am very thankful to my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Cooper, for helping me promote my app and always supporting me.
This article was first published 5/18.
Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.
Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.
That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.
Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.
Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.
Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.
With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.
The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.
Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.
As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.
Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.