Ciara-Beth Griffin IRELAND, 18
Basic Human Needs: Health
Growing up with high functioning autism, Ciara-Beth experienced difficulty maintaining eye contact, and the social isolation that came as a consequence. Intensive occupational therapy made her uncomfortable, bored, embarrassed and vulnerable to bullying. In an attempt to alleviate the negative effects that minimal eye contact had on her life, and the lives of others on the autism spectrum, Ciara-Beth created an app called MiContact. The app is an easy solution to help individuals with autism practice eye contact at their discretion and convenience. MiContact has been recognized with several awards, including the Abbott Life To The Fullest Award and the RTE Student Award for the Best Social and Behavioural Science Project. In partnership with the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre in Galway, MiContact was integrated into UNESCO’s campaign for empathy education. In the next year, Ciara-Beth plans to launch MiContact in app stores worldwide and create a technological library of resources for therapists, teachers and parents to help youth with autism. Her goal is to have MiContact in classrooms across the globe in order to help students with autism have better social interactions, and help educators support their students on the spectrum. Ciara envisions the app opening doors for many more people on the spectrum to hold successful employment, engage in a happy social life and become fully integrated into society. In the long run, she hopes MiContact will create a larger dialogue surrounding the way society treats its citizens with different social needs.