Cork teen develops app for occupational therapy patients

12 Jul 2021

Saanvi Kaushik pictured with her app, Stellar. Image: Teen-Turn

A 13-year-old from Cork city has been named as one of six junior Technovation finalists for her app which helps children access occupational therapy services.

A secondary school student from Cork has been selected as one of six Technovation finalists from around the world for developing an app that helps patients access paediatric occupational therapy services.

Saanvi Kaushik, a 13-year-old Christ King secondary school student, developed her app, Stellar, as part of a Technovation competition, which saw 5,900 girls from 60 countries develop 1,700 mobile apps to solve community problems.

The teenager’s Stellar app was chosen as one of only six junior finalists in the competition run by global tech education nonprofit Technovation, which aims to encourage girls interested in technology and problem solving.

Kaushik worked with Teen-Turn, a charity that mentors young women and girls from under-represented areas in STEM, to develop her app.

She was inspired by her mother, who is an occupational therapist. Kaushik set out to create Stellar after seeing how hard her mother worked during lockdown to care for patients.

Stellar provides a safe platform to occupational therapists so they can deliver remote appointments, monitor progress and develop individualised programmes for children. This means that some of the 30,000 children awaiting occupational therapy support in Ireland could access services regardless of where they live.

Kaushik said she felt in developing the app that every child should have access to high-quality occupational therapy services, no matter where they live.

“Unfortunately, there are currently 30,000 children waiting for occupational therapy in Ireland and these waiting times are only getting worse due to Covid-19,” she said.

Kaushik added: “I thought there must be a way to use technology to tackle this.”

The teenager’s teacher Denise Quilter praised Kaushik’s work ethic, determination and positivity.

Quilter said: “Saanvi is a wonderful example to her peers of what can be achieved with time, dedication and commitment, we at Christ King secondary school are all very proud of her achievements.”

And Kaushik spoke of her delight also: “I can’t believe that my app has been selected alongside others from Nigeria, Uzbekistan, Canada, Spain and Brazil as a finalist in Technovation. This competition and my involvement with Teen-Turn has really shown me what I can do, and it has made me ambitious for the future.”

The Cork student will join the other Technovation finalists to pitch to judges for the world title in August. Pre-Covid, the finalists would have had travelled to California for the pitch event but this year it is online.

This is not the first year an Irish teenager has wowed international audiences at a Technovation event. Last year, three teenagers from Drogheda, Co Louth, also took home a top prize for their app Memory Haven, created for people with dementia.

Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.