Local innovation: Zombie app to build resilience, combat youth anxiety

LAWRENCE MACHADO

CHILDREN facing anxiety and stress issues especially due to the long Covid-19 lockdowns in NSW can make the most of a locally-developed app, which is being rolled out in primary schools.

The Zombie Thoughts app was developed on the innovative Cogniss no-code platform alongside Riverside Theatre’s Zombie Thoughts stage play written around a 9-year-old boy’s experiences with anxiety. The app is expected to help children build resilience during these challenging times.

Riverside National Theatre of Parramatta recently launched the Zombie Thoughts app as a teaching resource in NSW primary schools and bundling access to the Cogniss platform, and their ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ app template, helping students to create and publish their own apps.

One of Riverside National Theatre’s young actors, Jay, 14, said the hardest part during the lockdown was handling the isolation, which meant he and his friends kept in touch online. Jay said the Zombie Thoughts app is great because it’s very user-friendly.

“I liked the idea of the breathing techniques (in the app) if you felt anxious,” Jay said. “The app is relatively easy to use, and I would definitely recommend it to others.

“I have a friend who has anxiety issues, and he often moves out of the stressful situation like stepping away, being alone.

“He uses breathing techniques and can calm down away from whatever caused his anxiety. It does takes time to call himself down.

“The app is fun to play, and I liked the interactivity, I enjoyed making the app and I liked the stories. I was worried it would be difficult to create an app, (but the) instructions were easy to follow, and it was enjoyable because it was easy to create.”

Both the Zombie Thoughts play, and app are based on avatars in a video game, and help children understand their feelings and learn various coping techniques.

Riverside National Theatre of Parramatta executive producer Joanne Kee says this is “a fantastic way for a teacher to address anxiety in a non-threatening way and the use of avatars lets children with anxiety engage without giving themselves away.”

“Anxiety is a real issue, I would say every kid if they have not got anxiety themselves, they know someone who has,” Ms Kee said.

“This is a really great opportunity because it can strengthen engagement with young people and give them opportunities to learn not just about feelings and anxiety and how to cope with it, but also they get to learn how to create an app at the same time.”

“We knew we wanted to do something like the app, but we could never have done it without Cogniss – we are a theatre company.

“The Cogniss platform empowered us to create the app, despite our team having no previous app development or programming experience – and the great thing is now we have a template we can use for other shows.”

Cogniss CEO Leon Young started Cogniss out of frustration over how expensive and time-consuming it was to custom-build apps, especially for education and well-being.

“With Cogniss, an app that takes an agency month to build and costs hundreds of thousands of dollars can be built in days or weeks with no big upfront costs and just a low monthly fee,” he said.

 

 

 

 

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