To give a feeling of belonging to those who feel voiceless

Madison R, Debbie K, Elissa G

Heard is an anonymous penpal program that connects at-risk youth, such as those in the LGBT community and those with mental illnesses. Each user chooses a penpal with similar traits and interests to their own. Then, they can message their penpal directly through our site. Our goal is to give a sense of belonging to those who feel isolated because of their identity.

One in five youth between the ages of thirteen and eighteen have a mental illness, and a staggering 52% of youth ages thirteen to twenty identify as something other than exclusively heterosexual. Despite these statistics, mental illness and LGBT issues remain the elephant in the room. Youth facing these issues feel isolated in their communities, and few resources exist in certain areas, such as right here in Georgia.

We are connecting youth to others in their communities who face the same issues and have the same interests. The users remain completely anonymous, protecting teenagers who are forced to hide their identity.

Creating a service that would allow users to send messages to each other proved to be very difficult. We had to change our choice of programming language three times before settling on using Meteor and Javascript. Debbie spent hours upon hours doing research on multiple ways to complete this task, before finding a way that would work for us.

Three rising juniors from the greater Atlanta area hoping to change the lives of youth around the world by giving them a voice. Debbie participated in All-State band and plays the clarinet. Elissa plays soccer and swims on her school team. Madison is the stage manager for her school theater. We all plan to continue to pursue technology in the future.

This project was made by Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program students at Accenture ATL.