This past Thursday marked the end of the 2021 One HEALtH Student Challenge! This year’s Challenge was held fully online over the last 6 weeks with a record number of students taking part. The Launch Event was held in late January, at which students were introduced to the One Health approach with a focus on specific hardships that were amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Students this year got the chance to form their own multi-disciplinary teams, and came from a wide range of disciplines, including Neuroscience, Health Sciences, Architecture, Engineering, Computer Science, and Mathematics! Each team was supported by a pair of graduate mentors with diverse expertise. Their challenge was to consider the issues of systemic neglect, social isolation, and loneliness among older adults in Canadian society in light of the pandemic. The goal was to design an intervention (an application, program, tool, product, or strategy) that brings together young and older adults in a manner that is beneficial, sustainable, and appropriate under the restrictions put in place to minimize the spread of viruses such as COVID.
In the first few weeks of the One Health Challenge guest speaker presentations were held and lively conversations took place between students and non-profit and social enterprise leaders, as well as fellow students who took participated in programs aimed at fostering cross-generational connections.
Soon after receiving input from the speakers and mentors, the students were well on their way to narrowing their scope and developing an intervention that would consider diverse perspectives and out-of-the-box thinking! A few short weeks later, the teams came together on March 18th for the final event. Their creative video pitches were featured for our judging panel. The students’ solutions showcased a wide variety of approaches to promoting cross-generational connections, touching on issues including food, storytelling, recreation, education, new technology, and design. Click here to see all of the teams’ video pitches!
After intense deliberation and a Q&A with each of the teams, the judges decided on a winner: Together One Forever, created by students Kareena Ajith, Andreanne Morera Tanguay, Natasha Nayar, Sophia Rivas, and Matthew Wilson (mentored by Sam Petrie and Aisha Robinson). Their web-based program would pair seniors (65+) with youth (18-30) to create a virtual workbook about the older adult's life and experiences, developed collaboratively through interactive storytelling sessions.
The judging panel also identified a runner-up: BioDem, created by students Neha Khanna, Izzy Munevar-Pelton, Hailey McGuire, Jaimie Reynolds, and Molly Zhang (mentored by Derek Mikola and Noa Gang). This solution combined innovative architecture with community programming to create an accessible, COVID-friendly space for cross-generational interaction.
Each of the members of the winning teams received a $100 cash prize and will be presenting their work at Carleton University’s Life Sciences Day 4.1 on April 6th 2021! The judges were enthusiastic about the quality of the solutions, and several expressed interest in partnering with the student teams to pursue their ideas further.
We are incredibly proud of the exemplary work and dedication from the students and mentors who helped make this year’s One HEALtH Challenge our most successful one yet!