SimplyPlay

Philips Health Education Service

A health and fitness curriculum co-design service focused on play for learning, which works with elementary schools to address health-related awareness, promote empathy between children, raise confidence in physical activity, and develop responsibility

Problem

About 8.4% of children in the US have asthma. Children with poorly managed asthma are far less likely to exercise or play with their peers; as a result, and they are at an increased risk for bullying at school.

Insight

Unawareness about asthma led to children becoming more afraid of physical activity, losing confidence in their bodies and, doubting their own abilities to manage their symptoms.

Outcome

We designed SimplyPlay, a service that partners with elementary schools to bring awareness to common illnesses and help students build responsibility and confidence in their abilities to manage them.

Timeline : Jan 2017 - May 2017
Team : Monica Looze, Angel Yu,                  Michael Li, Dixon Lo
My Role : Product Designer
  • Translated research findings into insights
  • Led testing process
  • Created wireframes

Product Overview

How does SimplyPlay Work?

Mobile App synced with weather data and EPA air quality data

The app provides a library of customized games and recommendations based on weather data, allows teachers to record asthma incidents during games and create their own games, and reminds teachers to bring inhalers- especially in triggering weather. Feedback from the app allows us to send new toolkits throughout the year as we understand your needs better.

Learn symptoms, triggers and treatments through games

Provided in the app, simple to complex games tailored to the school promote physical activity and help children learn about asthma triggers in a fun way. Our freeze tag game assigns children roles as asthma triggers, such as pollen, and others as “inhalers”. Triggers tag the other children to “freeze” them and inhalers can unfreeze them.

Give sense of responsibility through Healer Job Badge

Two students each week are assigned as “healers” to help teachers watch out for other students. Using what they learn about triggers and symptoms from the game and other components of the toolkit, their job is to take students to the nurse in the event of an incident.

Record achievements through drawing in a book

Characters, Super Bunny and Mr. Greeney, illustrate how to help friends with asthma in short vignette-style lessons. Healers then contribute to the book by drawing pictures of what happened to foster reflection, responsibility, and empathy.

Audience of SimplyPlay

Teacher

Teachers are not trained with how to deal with students experiencing asthma.

Student with asthma

A student with asthma is doing less exercise and unable to play with his friends.

Other Students

Other students don't know what to do when a student with asthma is experiencing symptoms.

Why SimplyPlay?

Build empathy through raising awareness to reduce bullying

Kids at this age make relationship while playing together, but unable to do so can make them subject to being bullied. Raising awareness and building empathy is one way to solve the issue of bullying .

Foster responsibility and independence so that students know what to do

Kids don't know what to do when their friends are experiencing asthma symptoms. SimplyPlay can teach students what to do when their friends are in trouble.

Our Process

Pain points of Asthma in School Environment

Designing a service for schools is not a one-size-fits-all concept

Every school has different environments and people that require different needs. Every school is unique in its own way and it is not really possible to make one service that can be applied to other schools.

Correlation between asthma, lack of exercise, and subsequent bullying.

Sometimes, doing exercise can trigger asthma symptoms for kids with severe asthma. However, we found out that sufficient exercising can actually help reduce asthma symptoms. However, many kids with asthma do not exercise, which led kids to become overweight and lose confidence.

Kids have short attention span

Especially kids under the age of 13, it is nearly impossible to have them seat and give lecture about what the asthma symptoms are and how to prevent it.

Teachers are not well trained with asthma and other illnesses

Teachers are not experts in dealing with healthcare issues. Even for common illnesses like asthma, teachers are not trained in what can cause asthma or how to prevent or treat it.

Identifying Design Goals

Build Empathy to reduce bullying

Friendship means especially a lot to kids at this age. Playing with other kids without being left-out can help reduce kids from being bullied.

Raise awarness of asthma

Knowing about asthma can help reduce students getting afraid and make them realize that they are just not feeling well some time to time.

Encourage responsibility and independence

Kids panic when they see their friends experiencing symptoms. Enabling kids to call for help is crucial to help the friend with symptoms.

Ideation

In order to start to understand how gym class, games, “healers” and data might work together to create a service to support children with asthma, exercise, and empathy in a school setting, we set out to map our proposed service.
Overall our concept was well received by the PE teacher. She liked the idea of the children looking out for each other, and mentioned that they would take the responsibility seriously.
We created screen mock ups for teachers to use to choose the games

Testing

We were not permitted to take any photos during the session
We tested the tag game at the Falk School during the Kindergartener’s gym class. The children have to play multiple rounds of tag in their half hour gym class so that everyone gets a turn to be multiple roles.

Adding creative elements like a pharmacy for the inhalers to get refilled or a hospital for kids to go to for “treatment” keeps the game interesting as the children play over and over again. It also also drives home the concepts.

The badge prototypes we designed were not useful for a tag game. The foam hand pictured on the left is more ideal for tag because the children can hit each other forcefully without hurting each other and without accusing other children of “hitting.”

Design Decisions for SimplyPlay

Physical activity to enable engagement

Physical activity can be the starting point for gaining self-confidence, self-management, and independence with asthma. We believe if a child can learn to adapt their behavior during physical activity, it will foster a sense of confidence and better self-management across all activities. results revealed a number of factors associated with an increased risk of bullying.

Factors such as a reduced participation with sport and feelings of sadness were significantly associated with an increased risk of bullying…as well as poor asthma control, parental smoking and parents’ on-going worries about their child’s health, were also associated with bullying.

"I was afraid to exercise because of my asthma attacks, so I became overweight, which made me even more afraid of physical activity. As I gained weight, I lost confidence in my body and ability to participate in sports."

The App Should Be Simple — but Customizable

Feedback on our game picker app underscored the idea that their needs are simple: they want something that gives them easy-to-understand game instructions, reminds them to bring inhalers, and warns them about asthma triggers. Teachers also mentioned that it would be nice to be given a framework for games that could easily be modified to fit other parts of their curriculum.

Characters need to be neutral

In our original book design, we made the asthma triggers “angry” so they would be evil, but Chelsea stressed the idea that they needed to be more neutral because the children might start to make negative associations with dandelions or peanuts, and that is not the goal of the work. Our goal is to help children understand that seemingly innocuous things in their world could be asthma triggers, not to make children afraid of them.

Enable teachers to learn about asthma and how to deal with it

Teachers are not trained about asthma AND they need a way to get kids to run around — led us to decide to create a teacher and teacher’s aid facing app that suggests asthma-oriented tag games for kids based on weather and air quality data.

The app ideally would provide just-in-time reminders to the teacher to bring inhalers with them outside as well as educate teachers about asthma triggers through explaining the rules of the tag games to the children.

“Teachers are not well-trained in asthma care. You don’t know it until you’ve lived it.”
“Kids get really wiggly and distracted during the day. Teachers often need a way to send them outside to burn off some energy.”

Space to build student's imagination

We were concerned that the white background on our book was too minimal, but they told us that children use their imaginations more effectively when they have just the characters without backgrounds. They also drove home the idea that they should not be using stickers, stencils, or any other aid in drawing because they are supposed to be developing their skills and imaginations.

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