A pioneering project that aims to tackle the stigma around adolescent mental health, which was led by Stirling’s young people, has been shortlisted for a major award.

Mental health champions in Stirling’s secondary schools and members of the Stirling Youth Forum were among those involved in developing a digital prototype to start a conversation about mental health among the younger age-group.

Over the course of seven months, they worked closely with Edinburgh-based company, Voxsio, to address this serious issue using Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology.

Together, they developed a Chatbot called ‘Alli-Chat’, which is available across social media platforms and offers personalised advice on where to access additional services and ongoing support.

Now their innovative efforts have seen them named among the three nominees for the Citizen Award category at the 2019 Holyrood Connect Awards, which will take place at the Waldorf Astoria, Edinburgh, on Thursday, 6 June.

The initiative was part of the first-ever citizen sourced challenge* by CivTech, the Scottish Government programme which invites tech companies to solve public sector challenges.

In February, Stirling’s Youth Leaders* unveiled their prototype of  ‘Alli-Chat’ to delegates at CivTech’s Demo Day at the International Conference Centre in Edinburgh.

Scottish Government Finance Secretary, Derek Mackay, and Sandy Kennedy, CEO of Entrepreneurial Scotland, were the keynote speakers at the event, which attracted attendees from the public, private and third sectors.

Meanwhile, there could be more local educational success to celebrate this week, with three Stirling schools among the finalists at the 2019 Scottish Education Awards (Wednesday, June 5).

McLaren High School is the only secondary school in Scotland to be shortlisted for the STEM (science technology, engineering and maths) Award, while St Modan’s High is in the running for the accolade in Employability and Creativity Skills Across Learning.

In the Learning for Sustainability category, Callander Primary School is one of the top three entrants in the country who are in contention for the honour.

Recognition of the incredible dedication, talents and innovation of young people and staff

Convener of Stirling Council’s Children and Young People Committee, Cllr Susan McGill said: “Congratulations to all the finalists representing Stirling at these national awards, which is recognition of the incredible dedication, talents and innovation of our children, young people and staff.

“I would like to wish them all the very best at both events, but they are already winners in our eyes for their work in these important areas.” 

Vice Convener of the Committee, Cllr Margaret Brisley, said: “It is fantastic to have three of our schools shortlisted as finalists at the Scottish Education Awards and for Stirling’s young people to be recognised nationally for their inspiring work around the serious subject of mental health.

“I am really proud of all the staff, pupils and young people involved, and they all deserve commendation for their hard work and achievements.”

Picture details and background info

* Stirling’s young participants on the CivTech project were named as Youth Leaders given their equal status on the challenge team, working alongside Voxsio and co-sponsors Stirling Council, NHS National Services Scotland and Health Care Improvement Scotland.

* CivTech Challenge is a problem a public sector organisation would like solved or developed, so that it can go out to the market in an open challenge format.

Picture shows the Stirling Youth Leaders involved in the CivTech project at the Demo Day in Edinburgh, alongside their challenge sponsors and Michael McTernan and Emily Horgan from Voxsio.

Second picture shows the Stirling Youth Leaders following their presentation at the CivTech Demo Day in February (From left) Sarah Purser (Stirling High) Natalie Klaes (McLaren High) Harriet Duffus, Ruby Ginoris, Evie Gulland, Amy Campbell (all Dunblane High). 

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