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The S/Hero badge - celebrating heroes (& sheroes) for their skin's fight against "unseen foes."

I provide innovation ideas to for-profit and non-profit organizations by leveraging my prior experience in healthcare, neuroscience.

Photo of Mitul Sarkar
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Please elaborate on your proposed solution to the challenge in no more than 300 words.

People may look at atopic dermatitis (AD) as scary, or fear it's contagious and ostracize the sufferer. We need to educate people that the condition is not contagious and that what they are seeing is a battle - a fight between the body (its immune system) and "unseen foes," e.g. environmental allergens, pollutants, and impurities in soaps and cleaners, in the water that we bathe in, etc. Seen from this perspective, the visible lesions of AD are the result of a brave fight put up by the patient's body. A fight that the bodies of unaffected people have not yet experienced.
Thus, by framing AD as a fight by our brave heroes and sheroes (pediatric as well as adult sufferers), people can be taught to remember that the condition is not contagious, that trigger factors of AD are present in our environment, and that we should support AD patients in their brave fight. Because if somebody in my family had the disease, wouldn't it be better to see him/her as a brave survivor and not a hapless victim?

PLAN. 1. A crowdsourced contest to design a UNIQUE (set of) sticker or badge that AD patients can wear proudly, that identifies them as heroes. If scanned by a smartphone, the badge launches an animation/AR/quiz/info that educates the viewer about AD - and about why patients are to be considered fighters, indeed!
2. A print-at-home solidarity badge or sticker that non-patients could earn by completing learning and social activities. Could be AR-compatible, too

What is the name of your organization?

I am an individual ideator, and I shall be partnering with a non-profit organization to develop and pilot this idea.

Where are you and your organization based?

I am in Arnold, MD, USA.

Please provide a description of your organization.

I, along with a personal network of multi-faceted thinkers and professionals, provide innovation ideas to for-profit as well as non-profit organizations.

What is your name?

Mitul Sarkar, MD, PhD

Tell us about your organization, or the organization you are partnering with: What inspired you to participate in this Challenge (300 words or less)?

My primary partner non-profit organization will be The Diana Award, registered as a charity in England and Wales. It's mission "is to develop and inspire positive change in the future of young people," honoring the legacy of the late Lady Diana, Princess of Wales. The organization has also been at the forefront of anti-bullying initiatives among young people in the UK and beyond ( ). I am inspired to partner with it because it already has a presence and credibility in schools and communities, and has already built its youth ambassador program and trainers for its anti-bullying work.

I am also working on bringing in advisors/experts from The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley ( ), because I admire their (neuro)science-based approaches to positivity in life and in disease. Confronting the negativity, fear and anger that underlie bullying, especially bullying of dermatitis sufferers, requires that we increase positivity within sufferers and also nudge bullies towards knowledge, empathy and positivity.

Building on your initial proposal in the Ideas Phase, please share additional information on your solution to the challenge in more detail (500 words or less).

The Diana Award, which has a separate shortlisted proposal also under consideration in this Challenge, has previously successfully implemented a peer-to-peer model in which young people, as either Ambassadors or volunteers, serve as role models and speak out against bullying in their schools, communities and online. The the S/Hero Badges would fit right in with the outreach to school-age populations. Those badges, when worn by children, youth and supportive adults, would keep the eczema awareness/conversations going, as those badges can "talk" even in their silence. They visually affirm the presence of a support network in schools, playgrounds, transportation, etc. For young patients of eczema who might otherwise struggle to explain their condition to peers, or even for their caregivers, the scannable/augmented reality badges are a shortcut to clear and concise explanations, and talking points that will help to dispel misconceptions about the disease, increase empathy, and the positive perception of the brave fight that the patients and their bodies are putting up against allergens and other triggers of eczema.

Badges can be earned and can reflect levels of accomplishment, celebrating a person's contributions to informing others about the disease and related anti-bullying activities. Thus, not just patients, but also Ambassadors/volunteers (who might themselves be patients) can qualify for higher level badges. Using the image in this submission (just a random image I found off the internet) as an example, note how the base layer featuring the lion/lioness can be stacked atop subsequent layers, each differentiated by color, boundary pattern, etc.

I am also excited about the possibility of talented tech-savvy youth creating some of the augmented reality features. For example, there are tools they can use to build augmented reality experiences/infotainment on the S/Hero badge, such as
The Diana Award's own community networks, as well as other people and communities elsewhere might come together to "create solutions for good" and in the process learn more about atopic dermatitis, the challenges faced by sufferers, the importance of tacking bullying, etc. We can see the potential to scale it beyond national borders or the Western world.

Please share more information on the steps you’ll take to make sure the project is a success (500 words or less).

Assuming that a funding guarantee from Sanofi Regeneron is month 0, below is how we tentatively envision the subsequent timeline:
Online and in-communities mobilization of atopic dermatitis sufferers, caregivers and volunteers/supporters, - month 0-3 and ongoing thereafter;
Discussion and polling of community to understand their expectations regarding our S/Hero badge ideas - month 1-4;
Crowdsource contest to create the S/Hero badge design, the "levels," and the augmented reality gateway - month 3-6;
Internal workshops to refine the badges, interactive features - month 7;
Orders placed for badges to be manufactured, ideally using sustainable fabrics - month 7/8;
Professional developers engaged to finalize the S/Hero badges and interactive content, so they are ready for public release - month 7-8;
Launch of the S/Hero badge and the atopic dermatitis anti-bullying campaign, potentially with a public inaugration by HRH Prince Harry and/or HRH Prince William in the UK, and online launch for any partner communities/school districts in other nations - month 9;
Feedback Surveys of school children, parents, community volunteers, Ambassadors - month 11, and every 2 or 3 months thereafter.
Re-analyze impact achieved, Apply for further funding from Sanofi Regeneron or potential funders to scale up - month 18.

How is your idea scalable (300 words or less)?

We shall use social media, online patient resource forums and other partnerships (created along the way) to spread the idea to more school districts and nations, and recruit the volunteers and Ambassadors (using the time-tested model that The Diana Award already has in place). Once the badges and the interactive experience gateway are created and refined for maximal impact, subsequent tweaks for scaling - for example, the translation of the interactive content into other languages - can be accomplished by a volunteer pool. Thus, once we get the ball rolling, scaling up internationally is very feasible.

How would you know if your idea worked and how would you measure it (500 words or less)?

To put it succinctly, Survey, Survey and Survey. Not just the patients, but also their peers (to gauge the increased empathy, the turn in sentiment against bullying, etc), school teachers/administrators, and our community contacts/volunteers.

I also foresee a possibility of working with allergologists and dermatologists to gauge how their patients are reporting their experiences with the disease. Perhaps Sanofi Regeneron can play a role in that?

During the Ideas Phase, you estimated how much your project will cost. Please update if this estimate has changed?

  • $7,000 - 9,999

Please share more information on how the grant funding will be used to bring your idea to life. Please provide an itemized budget. (500 words or less)

Anticipated expenses include:
Creation and upkeep of Website, forums - $4000;
Crowdsourcing contest and prizes - $3000;
In-person workshops and community meetups - $2000;
Badges, Printed materials and flyers - $1000;
Travel - $2000.
Total - $12000
Requested amount - the maximum possible, i.e. $9999?


Join the conversation:

Photo of Susan Jackewicz

Hi Mitul Sarkar Love your idea of badges being scannable for more info! Are you thinking of badges being an”earned” achievement for certain actions (as in your Octonauts example)...or as a one-time acquired piece to wear, like a pin?

Photo of Susan Jackewicz

This reminds me of the badge-earning challenges used in the US by theGirls Scouts and Boy Scouts organizations
I’m wondering if their long-time programs might yield insights for refinement of your idea.

Photo of Susan Jackewicz

Mitul Sarkar 
I was asking about the need for game design capabilities, because I know professors at three colleges whose institutions might possibly make good partners for your project. It would require some structure, but could be beneficial. Just a thought!

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