Hahira brothers win Congressional App Challenge for 2nd year in a row

Jan. 27—HAHIRA — Aarin and Aarav Dave have developed another award-winning app, this time for patients who need assistance communicating after surgery.

Lowndes High School tenth-grader Aarin and Hahira Middle School eighth-grader Aarav competed in the Congressional App Challenge for the Eighth District with Congressman Austin Scott.

"This [win] really speaks volumes about this school, I believe our school system," said Superintendent of Lowndes County Schools Sandra Wilcher. "This is what happens when communities come together across the state and nation, what a difference we can make in the lives of others."

The Dave brothers' app, ICUSpeak, was inspired by Hahira Middle School computer science teacher Laila Taylor, whose father recently underwent a heart procedure and had trouble communicating afterwards.

"He kept doing hand signals to my husband and his brothers and they couldn't get it. He was getting mad," said Taylor. "They came into the waiting room and they were telling me about it, and I was like 'There's got to be an easier way.'"

Taylor went in search for an application to help and found that there was an absence of up-to-date apps. This experience gave her the idea to pitch a post-surgery app to her class.

"We were talking about different ideas, and I said, 'Listen what about this?' And they ran with it from that."

The ICUSpeak app helps post-surgery patients, who are usually too weak and unable to speak, to communicate with doctors, nurses, staff, and more. The app communicates with a hardware device with various buttons that patients can press to select phrases like "May I see my son?" or "May I see my brother?"

This is Aarin and Aarav's second time winning the Congressional App Challenge as a team. They won for their school safety app Safeology the previous year.

The brothers spoke about how rewarding it is to create something that will make communicating after surgery more accessible.

"Just seeing the problems [patients] face, and what they have to go through, that definitely touched my heart," said Aarin Dave.

Aarav added, "There needs to be more [accessibility devices]...It feels good to create something and finish it. It's very fulfilling."

Aarin and Aarav will visit Washington, D.C., in April to network with other young app developers and present their app to the United States Congress.