After almost two years in the making, finally being able to share our online tool ICON feels amazing
The idea for ICON came when I was presenting at a conference on the Gold Coast. The topic of the conference was bullying and our presentation was around young people taking action against bullying. An earlier presenter had shared an App developed for nurses working in the outback and experiencing disproportionate levels of bullying. The App connected them directly to resources that could help them. I had one of those lightbulb moments where their idea just seemed to click with a need I had seen and I couldn’t understand why something like this hadn’t been made for young people sooner.
Growing up in a small rural town, I was well aware of the limited access both to services for youth and ways for youth to find the services that could actually help them. I was fortunate in that I was probably a bit more aware of these services than many young people, due to my work with Sticks ‘n Stones and previous experiences when helping out my peers.
In the beginning I had no idea what ICON would actually look like. I knew that it needed to replicate what the members of Sticks ‘n Stones were doing on a daily basis. I knew that it needed to be simple and non-judgemental and I knew that it needed to be written for young people, by other young people. Through my work with Sticks ‘n Stones we had come across multiple campaigns which gave off a “dad trying to be cool” vibe and I wanted to avoid this at all costs. ICON didn’t need to have a “cool” factor it just needed to be simple and, most importantly, useful.
There are already incredible resources out there that can help young people. The aim of ICON was never to duplicate these resources. The aim of ICON was, instead, to provide access to those resources. ICON would be a place to collate and sort these services so young people in need didn’t have to scour the internet for hours and still come up with information only half relevant to their needs. In the end, the best way I came up with to describe ICON was that it would be like a dictionary. With a dictionary, when you don’t know what a word means – you look it up. With ICON, When you are in a situation where you’re receiving negativity online and you are not sure what to do, you can look it up. ICON, like a dictionary, would not necessarily be cool, but it would be really useful.
Did I have any idea how long and how much work it would take to make my idea a reality? Absolutely not. It was absolutely a process of highs and lows.
Taking an idea which I so strongly believed would be a real asset for young people and then putting the idea out there, was both exhilarating and exhausting. Having applications for funding rejected, trying to validate a young person’s viewpoint and simply finding the motivation to keep searching for content and reading through the vast amounts of information available to find content really relevant to young people, were some of the low points.
The support of my Sticks ’n Stones colleagues and our mentors and knowing that young people can take action to support their peers, that young people know what they need and just need the help to find it and producing something that I believe could really make a contribution were some of the real highs.
Developing ICON has been a rollercoaster, that’s for sure, but I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.
Check it out at www.icon.org.nz
By Keryn Tubbs, project manager for ICON
To learn more about ICON-Click HERE