Scole teenager helps develop vital app for Norfolk bereavement charity

Owen Leeder

Owen Leeder - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

A community champion has helped to develop an app to support bereaved children.

Owen Leeder, 13, from Scole, is part of a panel of youngsters that have created the Smiles and Tears app for Nelson's Journey.

All of the people involved in the charity's youth panel are aged between 11 and 17 years old and have received support from the charity personally.

Owen, a Diss High School student, received the Young Volunteer of the Year award for his fundraising efforts at the South Norfolk Community Awards in February.

He volunteers his time to help out at the Norfolk bereavement charity Nelson's Journey after they supported him following the death of his father.

He said: 'It was a really difficult time for me and I felt alone, worried and sad - sometimes I couldn't really describe to anyone how I was feeling. The support I received from the charity changed my life and I hope that the app will do the same for others.'

The Smiles and Tears app recreates some of the activities available at Nelson's Journey, including a virtual balloon release and memory jar.

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Users are able to access the helpful resources at any time and can send virtual gifts to someone that has died, such as flowers, birthday cards and even aftershave - an idea recommended by the panel.

It also includes a virtual diary and emoji to help children express their feelings.

Lorna Vyse, senior child bereavement support worker and co-ordinator of the youth panel, said: 'Our Youth Panel have been involved in every stage of the app's development, from outlining useful features to choosing its name.

'Their input was invaluable at helping us get to the heart of what is most helpful to young people based on their own experiences with grief. BBC Children in Need funding has allowed us to transform the idea of an app into reality, and with it we hope to transform the lives of young people by bringing them comfort when and where they need it.'

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