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Swiping Success

Many can agree that bullying is a problem–especially in our schools. Three Rapid City students are taking a stand against bullying and launching an app that will help.

Ezra Barsch is 11 years old and has seen the stress bullying causes his peers. At the second annual Startup Weekend in September, he took the chance to pitch an idea—an app on your phone to report bullying anonymously.

The app would allow students to report bullying—sending an alert to teachers to let them know what is happening. In addition to the messaging, photo and video features would allow others to capture what is happening then pinning the event on a map of the school creating a heat map to see where the bullying goes on.

He was nervous about pitching in front of an audience of students and adults nearly twice his age, but the idea was a hit.

“I know bullying is a problem,” said Ezra, “and I know it happens within a lot of schools. If I could help stop bullying, kids would be less stressed, and it could lead to preventing suicide, too.”

After numerous pitches were presented at the Startup Weekend kickoff, attendees and presenters were able to vote on their favorite ideas – launching Ezra into the next round of creating his startup business.

Wyatt Engel, a student at School of Mines and Technology, was impressed with Ezra’s idea and joined his building team for the weekend.

“I was initially planning on doing a pitch myself,” said Wyatt, “but after hearing Ezra’s idea for a bully buster phone app, I knew it was a winning idea with a significant impact that I could relate to.”

Ezra’s sister Mia also joined the team to back the idea of ending bullying in school systems.

“Bullying awareness is something I like to work on because it’s important,” explained Mia. “Not a lot of teenagers think about it; that when they say something mean, it can really hurt someone.”

The team of three took the weekend event’s 54-hour time allotment to poll peers and community members, develop their business plan, and build the pieces their app would include. On Sunday, September 17—the team presented in front of a team of judges against a handful of other projects. After deliberations, the Bully Patrol app was awarded first place.

“It was really exciting,” said Ezra with a smile. “We got up there and people were giving us high fives—it made me really happy!”

Bullying affects 1 in 4 students in the US, according to the Center of Disease Control and the Department of Education. But, with the help of the Bully Patrol app, numbers are sure to decrease.

“Ezra is incredibly intelligent for his age and has characteristics most adults don’t,” said Wyatt. “You’ll definitely be hearing about Bully Patrol.

 

By Jenna Carda

Movers and Shakers Come Together

The Black Hills’ most innovative movers and shakers of all ages congregate at a local office once each year. They begin by sharing their ideas, then voting on which startups would be successful. Then the work begins.

In a 54-hour period, business plans are created, surveying and testing is done, then the team presents their startup idea to a group of investors.

Learn more here.

 

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