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Local teams place at app challenge event

by HILARY MATHESON
Daily Inter Lake | May 11, 2022 12:00 AM

The work local teams from Kalispell, Whitefish and Columbia Falls put in to develop apps addressing serious issues affecting teens earned them second and third at the virtual Northwest Regional App Challenge.

The challenge is an annual competition for girls in fourth- through eighth-grade organized by Kalispell-based Code Girls United.

For the competition, teams were judged on business plan presentations and demonstrations of apps they coded and tested for their target consumers. Judges were also provided with phones preloaded with the apps to try them out to better evaluate the technical side.

The Kalispell and Whitefish Coding Cats whose members include Sage Rohweder, Sylvia Blair, Willow Truman and Lainey Kneeland, took second place and received a $2,500 team scholarship.

The Coding Cats app, Perfect in Every Way, addresses eating disorders. The app informs users about eating disorders and seeks to support those with eating disorders to become comfortable in reaching out for help, according to the press release. App users may select how they feel, listen to positive songs affirming acceptance of their bodies, read encouraging quotes, watch videos and get tips on healthy eating.

The third prize winner of a $1,000 team scholarship was awarded to the Kalispell and Columbia Falls Count on Coding team made up of Eleanor Cantrell, Kiska Brassington, and Savannah Ackley.

Their app, Distract Me, addresses self-harm among teens which may lead to health problems and potentially suicidal behavior. The goal of the app is to help prevent self-harm by redirecting teens with a pong game, custom memes, custom movement activities and an artificial intelligence therapist bot that gives responses to users’ input.

Other app topics included: learning about endangered animals, reading analog clocks, getting support for teens in abusive relationships and fun ways to make friends at school.

First place and a $5,000 team scholarship was awarded to the Red Lodge Wild Mustangs team whose members are Marin Gallagher and Madilyn Novasio.

Their app, Wild Horses 101, teaches children about wild horses and owning them. Through the app, users learn about different breeds, ranges and care, according to a press release. Users then get to choose a wild horse and learn to care for them. The app is intended to help users gain an understanding of what it takes to care for a horse they might one day pursue in the real world.

Competitors also heard from First Lady of Montana, Susan Gianforte, who shared her personal story of becoming an engineer.

Code Girls is a Kalispell-based after-school program that teaches girls throughout Montana how to code, develop apps and present their work. For more information, visit www.codegirlsunited.org or contact Executive Director Marianne Smith at m.smith@codegirlsunited.org.

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 406-758-4431 or hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.