There’s an App for That: Tarek Meah
Play, win, solve the climate crisis!
Is it possible to leave a lighter carbon footprint, reduce traffic congestion and make cities more liveable by playing a virtual game?
Tarek Meah thinks so, and he’s creating an app that is doing just that.
Tarek is an intern at PUSH, an Italian-based tech company developing solutions to improve quality of life in cities, reduce consumption, and tackle climate change. He was connected to the opportunity through the Global Warming Mitigation Project's Constellations Program that connects students with virtual internships in its global network of climate organizations
Tarek is working with a small team of other interns, finding ways to use PUSH technology to help Los Angeles middle schoolers develop more responsible, healthy habits.
"We are using one of PUSH's virtual platforms to give students an avatar-like character they control on a phone app. Students complete challenges that encourage sustainable living, and over time earn points that can be exchanged for real rewards," said Tarek.
The more sustainable the avatar lives, the faster they climb the ranks. One of the challenges includes growing and caring for plants at a local botanical garden. Tarek hopes that by getting youth interested in gardening, they will be encouraged to grow a garden of their own instead of relying so heavily on shopping at supermarkets and eating non organic foods:
"We want to instill a sense of ownership. Plants are alive, and as a result kids are learning how to care for nature and other living things. At the same time, they are learning about community gardens and becoming more interested in the environment.”
Tarek wanted to target middle school students because he hopes that getting kids hooked at an early age will inspire them to develop new solutions to improve urban livability in the future. He didn’t start learning about sustainability until he was an upper-classman in college - and he knows his experience isn't out of the ordinary.
"Sustainable living is not in our body of knowledge in the United States, especially for people of color who don't have equal access to many of the ways they can help. But we can start with little things - like buying meat at the local butcher instead of meat wrapped in plastic at big stores."
And what rewards will students receive for hitting point milestones and completing challenges?
Fittingly, students are sent a real plant to care for on their own - ensuring they practice leaving a lighter footprint on the planet even while the phone is turned off.