In the face of enormous hardships, many of us feel trapped with no way out. However, some of us use those struggles to create a tool that can help thousands. That is exactly what the sibling duo of 16-year-old Hannah Lucas and 13-year-old Charlie Lucas did.
Last year, Hannah was diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), which is a condition that causes you to faint frequently because there is not enough blood returning to the heart when switching from a lying down to standing up position. The disease left her feeling scared and vulnerable, which resulted in her having anxiety and depression. Through her own challenges, Hannah realized that she and many others could benefit from an app that instantly alerts your loved ones of when you need mental or physical support. Thus, the notOK App was born.
Hannah told her brother Charlie about the idea and he used his coding skills that he had learned at summer camp to help his sister create the app. She drew out for him exactly how she wanted the app to look and then he used his coding knowledge to wireframe it. Charlie explained that he was determined to help Hannah bring notOK to life because he saw her depressed and
“Making this app made her feel better and that made me feel better.”
Hannah was able to get in contact with a development company in Savannah, Georgia after she shared the idea for the app during her summer class on entrepreneurship at Georgia Tech. The developers then worked with her and Charlie for five months, mostly over Skype, to assist them in the construction of the app.
The notOK app gives its users the ability to press a button that sends a text message to up to five preselected contacts with the following statement: “Hey, I'm not OK. Please call me, text me, or come find me.” There is also a link to the user’s current GPS location that is sent along with the message. The app has just recently been released with an iOS and Android version for $2.99 per month.
Hannah and Charlie’s app could be crucial for someone who lives with a mental illness and struggles to find the words to tell someone when they need help. The ease of use of notOK alleviates the burden of having to worry about maintaining the presence of mind to write a message for help in the midst of a mental breakdown. This could potentially save someone’s life because if someone was being overcome with suicidal thoughts, a loved one could respond to their message instantly and prevent them from harming themselves.
“I want other people who are going through what I’m going through to not feel alone. To know that it’s okay not to be okay.”