The Coca-Cola company recently flew Flagler College student Hope Rendell to the Big Apple to participate in the â€œCoca-Cola Happiness Hackathon,â€ an anti-cyberbullying campaign organized by the popular soft drink company and DoSomething.org, an online social change engine.
The freshman, along with 14 other youths nationwide, was selected based on a winning essay that addressed how to use technology to â€œmake the Internet a happier place.â€
As part of her submission, Rendell, an Education major, proposed the development of a Web site where people could anonymously submit offensive cyberbullying material â€” articles, posts and Web sites. She suggested a corporation, such as Microsoft, Google or Coca-Cola, manage the site and donate a dollar per cyberbullying entry to an anti-bullying charity.
â€œI was contacted by email saying that I won and I was so excited,â€ she said.
In October Rendell flew to New York, where she joined 14 other students ranging in age from 13 to 19 to develop and present ideas for the cyberbullying â€œHackathonâ€ portion of the contest. The conference was held at the DoSomething.org headquarters and participants were divided into five groups to dream up anti-cyberbullying ideas.Â With the help of a tech mentor, Rendell and her team developed an app with the slogan â€œBe the ONE who makes a difference.â€ The app would provide a safe haven for victims of cyberbullying where others could post positive advice for them. Mental health counselors would also be a part of the app service.
â€œWith bullying, victims feel like they’re alone,â€ Rendell said. â€œAnd I really believe if one person does their best to make that person feel loved or cared about, that makes a huge difference in the way things turn out.â€
Her group won in the category of â€œBest User Experience,â€ and Rendell took home a plaque and $500. Other highlights of the trip included meeting the CEO of Coca-Cola, the managing editor for BuzzFeed and attending the Broadway musical â€œFinding Neverlandâ€ with comedy series “Glee” star Matthew Morrison.
â€œI have never been to New York before, and I have always adored musical theatre,â€ she said. â€œAnd being in a hotel room where I was able to look out onto Broadway was amazing.â€
Also as part of Rendellâ€™s prize, Coca-Cola donated $500 to a charity of Rendellâ€™s choice: Boys and Girls Club of St. Augustine.