Jamaica students’ fitness app wins congressional contest

Congresswoman Grace Meng poses with Thomas Edison High School juniors Arun Buhoo (l.) and Jashua Veerasammy.
Photo Courtesy Grace Meng
By Gina Martinez

Two Jamaica high schoolers’ fitness app have won a congressional competition, which they will showcase in Washington next month.

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) announced last Friday that Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Education High School juniors Jashua Veerasammy and Arun Budhoo were selected as the winners of Meng’s app contest. The high school is known for its mechanical and electronic courses.

The “Congressional App Challenge” is a nationwide contest held by the House of Representatives in which students create and submit apps for mobile phones, computers or tablet devices.

Jashua and Arun will go to Capitol Hill, along with winners in congressional districts throughout the United States, to showcase their apps to congressional members and the tech community at the #HouseOfCode reception in April. The students’ apps are eligible to be displayed for one year on the House of Representatives’ official website. Jashua, Arun and the other winners will be awarded $250 in Amazon web credits and a $100 Southwest Airlines gift card.

Jashua and Arun won for “VIVID,” an app that helps users become more motivated and confident in fitness and health. The16-year-old students said they believe that with the high nationwide obesity rates, people need motivation to exercise, and their app motivates users to go to the gym.

Jashua and Arun said they were honored to win and that they were extremely excited to display their work on Capitol Hill next month.

“We first entered the contest for fun, then got serious about creating an app that could make a difference in people’s lives,” they said in a joint statement. “We brainstormed ideas for many hours, put our creativity to the test, and came-up with an app to help people be fit and healthy. We’re thankful that our hard work paid off and we are grateful to have had the inspiration of our shop teacher Kathleen Kuntz, and others from a competing team at our school.”

All apps were required to be original in concept, design and execution and were chosen by a panel of Queens judges who work within the academic, software and entrepreneurial fields. Jashua and Arun were selected as winners from the 15 Queens students who entered Meng’s contest.

Other submissions included games, apps that helped assist those with autism and helped women locate shelters, among others. Everyone who entered the competition will receive a certificate of congressional recognition.

More than 4,100 students nationwide participated in the contest and over 1,270 student-created apps were submitted. A total of 190 members of Congress from 42 states held contests in their districts.

Meng said she was extremely impressed by how Jashua and Arun used their creativity and scientific minds to create and develop their app.

“Their efforts illustrate the outstanding tech skills that exist among Queens students and I salute their passion for technology and writing code,” she said. “ I look forward to welcoming them to Washington next month, and I applaud the talents of all the students who entered my competition.”

Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmartinez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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