Apart of Me is our project to build a digital platform to help children and adults find resilience when someone in their family is dying or has died.
Help us turn a family's biggest nightmare into a reservoir of hope and resilience
We are creating an ecosystem of psychologically-minded tools, designed by experts in child bereavement and family psychology. With the right guidance it is possible to turn a family's nightmare into a reservoir of hope and wisdom for future generations.
Later this year we will be asking our supporters to join us on our mission; helping families to talk about death. We will launch a crowdfunding campaign, allowing us to get Apart of Me to those who need it; share your email and you'll find out about the crowdfunding campaign as soon as it's ready to go.
I don't understand
The idea for Apart of Me was born when Louis was counselling families where a parent was dying, at St Joseph’s Hospice in Hackney, London. During this time, he realised that the young people he was working with were just a tiny fraction of the numbers of young people around the world dealing with the death of a loved one without the means or support to process their often very difficult feelings. Thus the idea of Apart of Me was born, a digital platform to provide hope and resilience to families when someone is dying or has died.
So what have you done so far?
In 2016 we won a grant from the Nominet Trust and used it to build a beautiful, immersive game, co-designed by young people who have experienced the death of a parent.
Apart of Me has 4 key therapeutic features, all modelled on tried and tested real-world techniques. We'll describe them below but if you want to find out for yourself please get in touch and we can give you instructions for installing the beta version.
Here the user will find a number of fireflies that they can catch with their net. When they catch a firefly, the cave will light up in that colour. Each firefly represents a different emotion or feeling. The user will learn about the different feelings people can experience when someone they love is dying. They will also learn self-care strategies to help manage these feelings. As they catch fireflies, they also being to find a variety of stories hidden in the rocks. These are audio recordings from other young people who have been through something similar to them.
Message in a Bottle
Each day, a new bottle arrives on the island. In it is carried a quest that your character can choose to carry out. These quests all relate to interactions with the loved one if they are still alive, and more generally the recording of digital memories, so that the user curates a beautiful treasure chest of memories that they can check back in with whenever they wish to. One quest, for example, will be to ask the loved one to record what their single most important piece of advice would be for you.
A quiet, peaceful place on the island where your character can go to check-in and find some inner peace. There will be some guided meditations that will help the user feel more grounded in their body.
The Big Question
What happens when someone dies? There are many different perspectives on this big question. We are going to provide users with some different perspectives, as well as a space for them to record their own thoughts. The user will find rocks around the island which they can break open with a hammer. Inside the rock is a gem which will reveal one perspective on death. The user can keep this perspective in their notebook for future reference if they find it helpful.
Sounds good, what's next?
We've learnt so much from getting the game in front of young adults who experienced the death of a parent as children. We've talked to parents who have stuggled to explain the death of their partner and felt isolated, without anyone to talk to and we've met with organisations who are looking for new ways to reach young people in need.
Now we need to bring our game into the world, we have to build out a secure backend for the storage of digital memories and we need to accelerate the development of the most requested Apart of Me features:
An App for Parents and Carers
We will create a companion app for Apart of Me, this will provide vital information to parents and carers about how to talk to young people about death and dying. It will also allow parents and carers to upload images and stories directly to the Apart of Me servers, allowing our younger users to incorporate them into their treehouse.
Our message in a bottle feature is designed to guide young people in building up a virtual “memory box”, prompting them to ask important questions of their loved one and gather images and video “memories” before it’s too late. In Phase 2 we plan on allowing users to view and curate these memories in their own personal “treehouse” space.
Fostering an Interactive, Creative Environment
Our beta testers told us they loved the idea of growing, cultivating and building the environment within the game. This will allow users to customise their island while also allowing us more opportunities for exploring life and death in our safe virtual environment. This also allows us to add the ability for users to share their own ‘power-ups’ with other users, giving them a real sense of being able to help others who are going through hard times.
Hearing Other People's Stories
The Cave was one of our testers’ favourite areas in the game due to its immersive design and the sense of entering into a world within a world. We plan on enriching the cave, making it more immersive and giving our experienced users the ability to add their own audio stories