In the UK, 10% of children, young people (aged 5-16 years) have a clinically diagnosable mental problem, yet 70% of children, and adolescents who experience mental health problems have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age. Over 1 million children and young people – that’s 2 – 3 in every UK classroom – have some form of long term and persistent speech, language and communication difficulty. The Government has now pledged to spend £1.25billion by 2020 to support improvements in children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. Our innovative, unique and potentially life changing toy aims to help overcome the mental health crisis facing adolescents today by promoting conversations about emotions from a young age. Our creation acts as a comforting friend to all children, especially those who may struggle to express how they are feeling. Introducing... my aMEgo.
Our toy addresses the difficulties children may face, in expressing how they feel, with an interactive plush toy that helps them feel comfortable and supported. We aim to break mental health stigma and connect children with their emotions, especially those who struggle to talk about them. The toy also helps to open discussions regarding issues such as bullying, self-esteem and unspoken worries.
We are a team of 5 young business women from Worcester. We met in September 2018 through the Young Enterprise Programme which is a national competition that inspires young people to learn skills for business and enterprise in which each team starts their own business from scratch. Within our project for Young Enterprise we knew our business had to encompass values that we all felt passionately about. Mental health was a key topic that we all collectively felt strongly about as we have all first had experienced the impacts of mental illness both in ourselves, families and friends. We decided that we wanted to create a product that introduced concepts of emotional development and mental wellbeing from a younger age than we were taught in order to create positive habits in childhood that can continue into later life, hence reducing the burden of the mental health crisis facing adolescents today. Through months of designing, testing and market research we developed the aMEgo! We reached the national finals of the Young Enterprise (top 14 of thousands of applicants) competition and were continuously recognised for or innovation and creativity. Not only this, we sold our stock to parents, schools and support groups. The passion we felt for our values and product combined with the extensive positive feedback from children, parents, teachers, mental health professionals and corporations made us determined to continue the myaMEgo journey beyond Young Enterprise as we are confident that our toys can change lives for the better. As of August 2019, we became an official limited company: myaMEgoltd. We are currently in the process of rescaling our original concept in order to reach a wider target audience.
The concept of aMEgo is that each of the 5 coloured pom poms represents a different emotion (happy, sad, angry, worried or calm). The child can put the pom pom that best describes how they are feeling inside the mouth of their aMEgo – communicating their emotions without having to verbally express them. The adult can then have a private look at how the child is and start conversations about emotions in relation to this. We will also have a webpage to help parents use the toy to teach children about emotional wellbeing. However, the possibilities of uses for aMEgo are vast for example the toy can also be used as a comforting friend for the customer and even a stress ball. The name 'my aMEgo' was decided due to the reference to the Spanish term for friend and the alternative spelling that emphasises 'ME' is in relation to the subjectivity of emotions as everyone is at risk of negative mental health so this adds a personal touch.
In order to reach as many young people as possible and spread the message of emotional communication to a wider scale we need your support! You will be responsible for helping to promote a concept which has already helped children who struggle to understand and express their own emotions finally communicate the. The average age of onset for a clinically diagnosable mental health condition is just 14. If we work hard enough, we are determined to tackle the roots of these disorders by improving the way we talk about how we are doing on a daily basis, not just when things get too much to handle. Starting with small positive lifestyle changes for both adults and children, we are certain that our aMEgos are the perfect tools to aid a huge future change. For example, over 40% men will not talk to anyone about their mental health. My aMEgo ltd want to combat this stigma early in life and changing social perceptions preventing conversations about mood and emotions.
We would like to scale up our business from a small local company to selling our product on a larger scale through expanding our manufacturing processes. As 5 young, determined and innovative businesswomen, our only setback is funding in order to launch our product to a bigger audience. The unbelievable feedback we have received so far combined with our own confidence and passion for our product and concept makes us even more driven to help more young people to overcome the common struggle of emotional communication. Emotions are universal and everyone experiences different levels of mental health and that is why we want every child to explore the benefit of have an aMEgo.
If we reach our stretch target, we will invest our money into developing extra resources for parents and carers to guide them through using the aMEgo and helping to teach children about mental health and distinguishing between their different emotions, further enhancing the 'my aMEgo' experience. We also want to invest in marketing our product in order to reach as many potential customers as possible as we truly believe that so many young people deserve to have a positive relationship with mental health awareness, especially as it is so topical today.