During the second day of HOPE project workshop, attendees had the opportunity to meet Sinead Lynch and Bronagh McNamara, two social entrepreneurs, that are currently developing an app, named Ruby’s Fitness App, to promote and focus on exercise and wellness for children and adults with additional needs.
The Ruby of the app’s name is the late daughter of co-founder Sinead Lynch. Ruby, who had Down Syndrome, passed away three years ago at just seven years old. When Ruby was born and in the years that followed, Sinead Lynch realised on the lack of facilities and access to proper exercise, fitness programmes and wellness for people of all ages with additional needs. She joined forces with Bronagh McNamara of Foyle Down Syndrome Trust, who had contacted her about setting up fitness classes for people with additional needs. That’s when they came up with the idea of creating Ruby’s Fitness App.
The idea is to have a specialised app with physical exercises and wellbeing programme adapted to person's ability and needs, a solution to provide training programmes for young adults, support parents of children with additional needs and support community groups and teacher during PE classes.
Behind Ruby’s Fitness App team are Sinead Lynch and Bronagh McNamara in charge of the fitness and Jason McDevitt an app developer that is helping to create the app. The three of them took part in the first North West Co-Founders programme, which has provided support to a new generation of first-time entrepreneurs and early-stage start-ups from the Derry and Strabane area (North Ireland). Ruby’s Fitness App was one of five start-ups that received £10,000 of Innovate UK funding in conjunction with the Northwest Co-Founders Programme.
Based at Catalyst Innovation Centre in Derry, all the Co-Founders cohort, including the Ruby’s App team, completed a part-time online programme one night a week for 16 weeks. The programme helps people develop new product ideas focused on technology, engineering and science.
Ruby’s Fitness App has been developed and promoted throughout the process and is currently at the prototype second stage, where it is being tested out by the staff and students at Ardanshee School. They have already filmed several exercise videos adapted based on ability and also wellbeing routines for people with additional needs. This app will be different from others as it will be an option to have it in sign language and accessible with audio description, subtitles, large font and images buttons, image and videos or emojis for communication.
Based on the interest that they have had on the app, Sinead Lynch and Bronagh McNamara are planning to approach the Education Authority in Northern Ireland to trial it in mainstream and SEN schools. For the future, they would be like to introduce this in the virtual reality world. As a lot of evidences shows the virtual reality can promote exercise, so they would like expand the Ruby's Fitness App and promote it outside the UK.