SUDBURY -- Laurentian University and Wiikwemkoong have launched an app that focuses on the health and well-being of Indigenous youth aged eight to 18.

The app is designed to help youth deal with how they are feeling throughout their day.

LU professor Nancy Young played a big role in creating the app. Young told CTV News it has been in the works for a long time.

“We started this because their were no outcome measures for Indigenous children in Canada,” she said.

“We got to the part of putting out an app because we felt there wasn’t time in Indigenous health centres to enter data … So we thought we would let the children to do the data entry, and that became the secret sauce that attracted the children to engage in the questions.”

The app was officially launched on Nov. 20, which was National Child Day.

The app is currently being used in classrooms, acting as a back-to-school activity, and in health centres where young people are receiving treatments.

Two levels of use

“The app has two levels of use,” said Marnie Anderson, a researcher at Laurentian University. “The first level is really that connection with that child. They understand immediately how that child is doing, and how they are feeling so that they can help them in real time.

“The second level is that population understanding. How are these groups of children doing all together? What can we do to bring in programs?”

The app is a 62-question survey that immediately answers how the young person is feeling spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically.

When the young person is done the survey, their answers are ready to be viewed right away.

“Having this information immediately available, ready for the communities to have access to that data is really important,” said Anderson.

“To be able to bring in programs immediately is something these communities need and something that isn’t often happening in each community.”

Children use the app by themselves via the tablet and can talk back and fourth with it.

Staff said the main goal is to improve the lives of Indigenous children.

“They can use it as part of clinical to say ‘how are you doing the first day when you came in, and how are you doing three to six months later,’” said Young.

“It’s entirely up to each community to decide how it helps them.”

Longer term, Laurentian staff said their plan is to create an app for three to seven year olds, and for those who are older than 18 and in post-secondary school.