Emergency! wins Rep. Cliff Bentz’s 2021 Congressional App Challenge in Oregon’s Second District

Rep. Cliff Bentz has named Rami Hozi, Blake Wickers, Cordell Patrick, and Zeferino Araiza of Hermiston High School as the winners of the 2021 Congressional App Challenge in Oregon’s Second District.

When asked what inspired the creation of Emergency!, the students said, “Experiencing this pandemic, like everyone else, really changed my viewpoint on just how important mental health really is. Unfortunately not everyone deals with the bad points of their lives the same as those who are strong. Upon discussing this viewpoint with my friends, we all came to a consensus that everyone should have access to an app that not only helps to have quick direct access to hotline numbers, but also other useful features that would help connect everything together in a way that makes sense. In addition to my viewpoint, my friends also mentioned how they had peers talk to them about continuing mental health struggles, and thus we decided that would be the time we make an app for everyone to use for a quick and efficient way to access help, but to also give anyone just one more option to access the help they need. Initially Emergency was developed with only access to hotline numbers, but upon talking with my peers, and hearing their story on how this pandemic impacted them, or their mental health, we slowly began to draw more and more inspiration for more features, and a drive to expand the audience of this app. We transitioned from wanting this app to just reach those struggling with mental health, to wanting this app to reach everyone facing a hardship in their life or helping someone else in their hardship. Overall seeing the world in the state it was in, and still in, helps draw immense inspiration for this app and its features.”

The 2021 Congressional App Challenge yielded 2,101 fully functioning apps. After eighteen months of disruptions to educational cadences for students everywhere, the Congressional App Challenge came roaring back with 7,174 students registering for this year’s competition. All told, 340 Members of Congress hosted Congressional App Challenges in their districts across 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington, D.C.

The Congressional App Challenge is an official initiative of the U.S. House of Representatives, where Members of Congress host contests in their districts for middle school and high school students, encouraging them to learn to code and inspiring them to pursue careers in computer science. Each participating Member of Congress selects a winning app from their district, and each winning team is invited to showcase their winning app to Congress during our annual #HouseOfCode festival. The program is a public-private partnership made possible through funding from Omidyar Network, AWS, theCoderSchool, Facebook, Replit, Accenture, and others.

The 2022 Congressional App Challenge will launch in June of 2022, and eligible students can pre-register for the competition now.