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Described by founder Jenna Galloway as “Minecraft for mental health,” Fledge is a gamified platform that teaches young children the foundational skills necessary to build mindfulness and emotional competency.

With a target age of kindergarten to Grade 3, Fledge’s web-based programming is facilitated by teachers who, with screen projectors or smart boards, can present the material for group interaction. “It can be as little as 10 to 15 minutes,” says Galloway. “The whole class sits down and engages in an activity that teaches them about self-regulation or concepts like building confidence, making friends, (and a) growth mindset.”

Galloway, as a young adult studying health sciences and coping with her own mental-health challenges, learned the skills to help her function. She says she remembers thinking, “If I had those tools at an early age, things would’ve been a lot easier.” With that in mind, she developed Wymbin, a youth wellness and education studio, to promote mental health. To expand this outreach, Galloway created Fledge, a research-backed app that can be incorporated into the curriculums of elementary schools. The goal is to bridge the gap between a child’s academic success and mental well-being, providing a comprehensive solution to a complex problem. “Fledge is designed to make things easier for teachers,” Galloway says. “We make their lives nice and simple, and it’s fun for their students.”

There are plans to pilot Fledge in 18 schools in Alberta, and Galloway has already been in touch with administrators in B.C. and Saskatchewan. She has also offered programming — free of charge — to two not-for-profit organizations. “We’re looking to connect with educators and parents who are interested in supporting wellness from an early age.”

In addition to Fledge’s unveiling, Galloway says she intends to run a longitudinal research study, measuring the impact and efficacy of the platform in classrooms, “so we can actually validate it — that’s very important to us.” And UCeed funding could play a vital role in this research. “How this platform is actually going to make a difference and how we measure that … that is something, I feel, UCeed is able to support,” says Galloway. “I would really love to see Fledge grow into an internationally used health and wellness education platform.”

Visit Fledge’s website for more information.

Fledge has received investment from UCeed, a venture philanthropy fund accelerating UCalgary and community-based startup companies to advance problem-solving research, create jobs and fuel the economy. A key program in the UCalgary innovation ecosystem, UCeed bridges the gap between innovation, demonstration and commercialization, and is managed by UCalgary’s knowledge-transfer and business incubator, Innovate Calgary.

The UCeed Social Impact Fund is powered by the generosity of the United Way of Calgary and Area and its mission to mobilize communities for lasting social change and the Government of Alberta’s Creative Partnerships initiative to support arts and non-profit sectors.