The Department of Community Development - Abu Dhabi (DCD) has conducted a pitch day for the Wyakom initiative, the final stage in which the top 10 qualifiers pitched their solutions to improve elderly wellbeing to a panel of judges. The primary goal of the Wyakom digital platform is to foster civic engagement and improve social cohesion by involving the Abu Dhabi community in identifying innovative solutions.   

In its second cycle, Wyakom focused on seniors’ wellbeing in three categories: financial, emotional and social wellbeing. This year’s iteration of Wyakom garnered 305 submissions, reflecting a 161% surge in participation compared to the first year’s cycle. Following the judging committee’s thorough examination and evaluation of all submissions, 10 solutions were forwarded to the next and final stage. Participants competed in presenting their solutions for the elderly to the various experts in the panel, who will determine the top three winners.Top of Form

The jury panel, comprised of several experts and specialists in the social sector, includes representatives from the DCD, the Family Development Foundation, The Authority of Social Contribution - Ma'an and the Family Care Authority. The DCD also placed importance on involving individuals from the community to participate in the evaluation of the proposed solutions including an elderly community member.

The jury panel will analyse and evaluate the 10 ideas presented to them and select the top three solutions based on several criteria. This evaluation matrix includes the overall clarity of the presentation, its persuasiveness, and its effectiveness in addressing the challenge. Other measures include the sustainability of the idea, as well as its technical and financial feasibility. The finalists are expected to respond to the committee's questions, demonstrating a thorough understanding of the challenge at hand.

Her Excellency Eng. Shaikha Alhosani, Executive Director of the Social Monitoring and Innovation Sector at DCD, said: “We are delighted to receive the valuable submissions of the community through the Wyakom platform. These solutions could really contribute to enhancing the quality of life of the elderly in our society.

“Incorporating the collective voices of our community is vital as we strive to enhance living standards. This initiative serves as a resounding testament to our unwavering commitment to actively engage the community in creating impactful solutions that foster positive change.”

The pitch day saw 10 finalists propose their solutions. Amr Abdullah Bayoumi proposed the idea of a QR code bracelet titled Scan to Assist Me Home, a project that aims to improve the safety of Alzheimer’s patients and quickly locate missing elderly individuals. It is a smart bracelet with a lock that is difficult to open without assistance, made from soft, waterproof and durable material to ensure comfort when worn.

Salem Al Breiki and Amal Al Breiki suggested organising social gatherings for the elderly outside mosques in residential areas. This proposal aims to enrich their quality of life, foster solidarity and encourage communication across different generations. It addresses the absence of dedicated centres for the elderly in certain residential zones, which can lead to isolation and a lack of social support. The idea focuses on promoting communication, raising awareness, providing education and offering psychological support.

Nouf Al Zaidi presented the concept My Wisdom, which intends to bridge the gap between the elderly and younger students. This involves elderly individuals visiting schools in their area, where they share stories and wisdom relevant to occasions like National Day. These interactions aim to improve students' skills through direct engagement with the elderly.

Sara Al Nahdi proposed the idea of qualifying aid workers for elderly care. The concept involves collaboration with labour offices to provide specialised training for aid workers who look after the needs of the elderly, of which many live on their own. This idea aims to provide suitable support for them as well as upskill caretakers.

Fatima Rashid Al Zaabi suggested the Kind Elders initiative, aiming to create residential neighbourhood councils in Abu Dhabi by organising special days for the elderly. The initiative plans activities and entertainment events to promote social interaction.

Abdulrahman Saqr Al Zaabi proposed the idea of Elders' Outing, involving a dedicated and well-equipped bus that will take elderly individuals on tours around Abu Dhabi. The bus will have all the facilities that will ensure their comfort and aim to introduce the elderly to various touristic and cultural sites. This initiative promotes social and psychological wellbeing tailored to their needs and preferences.

Noura Saeed Al Hajri introduced the concept of Artificial Intelligence Buddy to enhance mental health through virtual interaction. The proposal is to develop an innovative application based on artificial intelligence technology that will act as a virtual friend for people facing mental health challenges, thus helping them get the help and support they need.

Sara Gulamani proposed the idea of the game Cube Puzzle for the elderly, which is based on a popular children’s game known for enhancing creativity and cognitive function. The idea encourages the elderly to be socially engaged by thinking about building these cubes, utilising their cognitive skills and addressing physical and mental challenges while enhancing their wellbeing.

Maher Motwali Fathi suggested the idea of Good Gardens, which involves elderly people cultivating agricultural crops in their home gardens. This idea aims to reduce their feelings of isolation by improving their lifestyle after retirement and by enriching their physical and mental activity.

Lastly, Sama Hamoud Aldrai proposed the idea of Sustainable Financial Wellbeing, which gathers councils of elderly people in the finance field. This aims to organise professional workshops and advanced training programmes, provide financial skills, and create an interactive and open environment allowing the elderly to share their knowledge and experiences with each other.

The top three winning ideas will be awarded in a ceremony organised by DCD in November 2023. The department will work with its relevant partners to develop an operational plan for implementing the proposed ideas in collaboration with the various government, private and third sector entities in the emirate.

As part of the initiative, several interactive capacity-building workshops were organised for participants. This included an explanation of the concept of social innovation, its methodologies, and practical applications. Participants were also shown how to apply social innovation to help improve their submitted ideas and how to share their ideas for the pitch day. The workshops underscored the important role played by social innovation in meeting the ever-changing community needs by addressing challenges more effectively.