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Impact 0521: Digital learning for seniors

Yi Shan · 8 April 2022
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Youth Action Challenge (YAC) is a platform for youth to provide solutions that tackle the issues we are concerned about. Since October 2021, over 80 teams and more than 310 youths have undertaken the YAC Season 3 journey.

Yi Shan, 23, is currently completing her final semester at SMU, studying psychology and business. She believes that there is a lot of potential when communities, businesses and technology collaborate with an aim of making an impact, and when they try to take part as individuals to drive the collaborative effort forward. 

Along side that, she and a group of friends came together and founded ​​Armchair Kakis, a place to help vulnerable seniors integrate into a digitally advancing society, by developing a personalised digital companion and enhancing their learning experiences.

Today, she shares more about the project!

What was your role within your YAC project?

My teammates jokingly call me the ‘Shan-gine’ (Yi Shan + engine) at times. That’s because my job scope involves ensuring our team met up to get stuff completed, and had check-ins with our mentor (who offered invaluable insights for our project!). I’m thankful to be able to work with a team of diverse and amazing individuals who each brought unique skills to the table while having fun together and creating impact! 

What motivated you to join YAC?

It sparked from a conversation in a cafe when my friend and I were pondering about starting a social cause but were not sure where to begin. The one thing we were sure of was that we first needed to identify a pain-point. With some preliminary ideas that revolved around exploring something that can help facilitate digital adoption/learning among seniors, we chanced upon YAC with just the perfect entry category. We signed up after putting together a team with diverse yet complementary skills.

Can you share with us your experience with your YAC project?

The support for this programme was something the team never expected — our amazing mentor who journeyed alongside us, the numerous workshops YAC organised at each stage of our journey, and the mentoring sessions with industry experts and pitching coach. With this support, the team was encouraged to walk the ground to really understand the pain-points of our target beneficiaries, embark on repeated cycles of brainstorming/discussing as a team and iterating/going back to the drawing board. 

One of the team’s most heartening moments was when we did our paper prototype testing with a group of seniors from Loving Heart, who later asked us: “So when would you all launch this on the app store?” This comment touched us and spurred us to dream bigger and make things happen. 

What are some challenges you faced while working on your YAC project?

To ensure that our project was always closely attuned to the pain-points of our beneficiaries, we conducted numerous interviews and pilot testing. This involved walking the grounds and speaking to seniors — a skill we honed and refined over time after numerous rejections from seniors who thought we were trying to sell them commercial products, to the point where we were hesitant. But we refined our approach each time and it worked, so, hopefully we can now call ourselves “auntie” and “uncle” charmers!

Could you share more on how your project has a positive impact?

Understanding that things have increasingly gone digital, from basic needs such as ordering food, doing payments, to equally fundamental needs like social connectedness, we see seniors wanting to go digital but are either hesitant or unsure how to do so. Our team’s solution is the KAKI App, a “Google” for seniors but “S.P.I.C.E-ier” — simple, personalised, inclusive, convenient and engaging. The KAKI App empowers seniors to take learning into their own hands, addressing one of their key pain-points of not wanting to feel like a burden to others when wanting to learn digital.

Were there any key takeaways or learning points from your time with YAC?

To always go back to our beneficiaries’ pain-points, speak to many people about our idea, and to always be receptive towards iterating our idea. With the beneficiaries’ pain-points as a compass, our team always reminded ourselves of these and continuously engaged seniors to understand their pain-points as we were developing and iterating our solution. 

The mentors we got to speak to through the YAC programme also gave us many perspectives and feedback as they hail from various backgrounds. Keeping an open and inquisitive mind allowed our team to gather feedback and perspectives that went towards better addressing our beneficiaries’ pain-points.

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