NeurDraw wins Rep. Harder’s 2023 Congressional App Challenge in California’s Ninth District

Rep. Harder has named Anisha Pandey, an 11th grader at Mountain House High School, as the winner of the 2023 Congressional App Challenge in California’s Ninth District.

When asked what inspired the creation of NeurDraw, the student said, “Due to the increasingly fast-paced nature of our lives today, over 5.8 million children have been diagnosed with anxiety in the United States alone. As these diagnoses continue to rise, the need to eliminate the stigma around mental health and neurodivergent disorders is vital. After volunteering at several organizations that help out children with special disabilities, I noticed the lack of support and resources available for these children and their families.  There was definitely a prevalent gap in the knowledge of mental health resources and neurodivergent support around us. Several parents were often unaware of the various resources available and were surprised to hear there were so many local organizations there to support them on every step of their journey. 

Upon further research into these social issues, I found that one of the most common tools used by mental health professionals today is art therapy. Art therapy is a fun, enriching activity that allows patients to explore their emotions, understand conflicts or feelings that are causing them distress, and use art to help them find solutions. Therefore, the concept of bringing art therapy into our digital world inspired me to begin developing NeurDraw.” 

This year’s Challenge saw an unprecedented level of participation, with 374 Members of the House of Representatives hosting competitions, surpassing the previous record of 340. A remarkable 11,334 students from across the United States competed in this year’s Challenge, marking an impressive increase of nearly 1,000 participants compared to the previous record set in 2019. The enthusiasm and creativity these students display is a testament to the growing interest in technology and signal a bright future for American innovation. The surge of ingenuity continued with a whopping 3,645 original applications flooding in, nearly a thousand more than the previous year’s high. This remarkable growth showcases the exceptional talent and innovation within our nation’s youth.

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. This resounding show of bipartisan support emphasizes the critical importance of STEM education in today’s rapidly evolving world. 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.