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The new project helping parents develop their kids' emotional resilience

Education Desty, a software development start-up is rolling out mentors in schools to get children to use its programme.

Stephanie O'Malley and a child using Education Desty
Stephanie O'Malley and a child using Education Desty
Image: Stephanie O'Malley

EDUCATION DESTY, A software development start-up company, is mentoring parents and teachers across the country to use its online programmes help develop children’s emotional education.

Desty is a learning programme which allows parents, teachers and carers to better support their children in their emotional development.

Once signed up to the programme, the child will be guided around an online animated island which helps develop self-awareness, emotional intelligence and resilience.

Desty Island is a colourful, interactive world that provides a safe space for students to explore and understand the six universal emotions with their online guide, Desty, and their chosen adult mentor.

Education Desty received funding from the Social Entrepreneur Ireland Awards last year. Applications for the 2018 awards programme close at 5pm on 20 March.

Creation of Education Desty

Stephanie O’Malley, the company’s CEO, has worked in educational and child psychology services for the past 15 years, supporting families, children and educators across many areas including the support of children with additional challenges.

During her time as a psychologist, O’Malley said that she felt that child education was almost all academically-focused. However, she said that children live happier and better lives when they are also offered a chance to develop social-emotional competencies.

From here, O’Malley made the decision to launch Education Desty in 2015, an online platform where a child can create, tell and share their stories of feelings, thoughts and relationships in an animated manner.

“More and more, I was recognising that the emotional needs of children were not being looked at and how much they played a part in a child’s learning needs,” O’Malley told TheJournal.ie. 

“The idea was to develop a programme that would tap into children’s emotions and help them learn about themselves. There was a growing recognition that children are using technology, I would feel too much, but at the same time it is a good medium for engaging children.”

Education Desty trains key people in a child’s life, be it a teacher, parent or carer to be a mentor.

A mentor then implements the online programme with the child, which is focused on developing their emotional intelligence.

Primarily, the programmes are focused on children who will benefit from extra individualised support than others. However, many parents who have signed up to use Education Desty, O’Malley noted, have done so because they simply want to “build their children’s resilience”.

Mentoring scheme

Education Desty trains mentors over a five-week period to prepare them to be qualified in the online programme.

Once trained, the mentors link into the Desty mentor network, where they receive ongoing support from the Desty team and other mentors.

[image alt="DESTY Island" src="http://cdn.thejournal.ie/media/2018/02/desty-island-296x174.png" width="296" height="174" credit-source="Stephanie%20O'Malley" caption="Desty%20Island" class="alignnone" /end]

Last year, O’Malley won €10,000 in funding for Education Desty from the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Awards.

Since then, she told TheJournal.ie that she has used the money to set up a mentor scholarship fund. The company has trained 50 members since the financial support came in. Because of this, 35 extra schools across Ireland now have an Education Desty mentor available for its students.

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland is a not-for-profit organisation that supports people with new solutions to Ireland’s social problems.

SEI helps these individuals to increase their impact by providing financial funding along with technical and practical support. Every year, the Social Entrepreneur Awards allows start-ups to apply for funding, and up to eight people are awarded support in the end.

Over the past 13 years, SEI has supported 211 social entrepreneurs.

“Our focus as a company is social impact. We’re trying to improve the lives of children and to support the people who are working and living with children. We’ve always felt that social impact is at the heart of what we do,” O’Malley said, explaining why she applied for the funding.

I would encourage everybody with an idea to definitely apply. For me, the process of applying really gets you thinking about your company.
The opportunities that are available, in terms of not just the money, but the programme they offer and the support from other social entrepreneurs is really critical when you’re an early startup.

Interested candidates can apply or find out more here.

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