Pythagoras awarded first place at Microsoft’s PowerApps Hackathon for Make-a-Wish UK

On the 14th and 15th March, Microsoft partners gathered at the Microsoft Reactor to create PowerApps to address common challenges faced by charities.

Make-a-Wish UK set the scene for the day by presenting the amazing work that they and their volunteers do for children with life-limiting or critical illnesses. Since 1986, Make-a-Wish UK has delivered over 12,000 life changing wishes to children and their families to bring happiness, provide respite and create magical memories.

The Challenge

Make-a-Wish UK has a network of wish visitors who visit each child and capture their ideas for their wish. Representatives from the charity discussed the current challenges with capturing accurate information in a limited amount of time, recruiting their volunteers and recording the wish story as the experience unfolds for each child. Each team was tasked with creating an app that could address one of these challenges.

Our Team

Our team was made up of three Pythagoras consultants (Paul Bartram, Matt Steer and Anjali Desai), and we were pleased to be joined by Stephanie Hand, Dynamics 365 Technical Solutions Professional at Microsoft too. We set our sights on creating an app to capture information about each child’s interests and their ideas for their wish.

At Make-A-Wish, each wish visitor has a short amount of time with a child and their family. They often have limited information about the child before this meeting, which can make it challenging to find out all details of what they are looking to achieve.

We wanted to provide a mechanism for capturing data in advance, to give context to the wish visitor prior to their meeting and encourage the child to start thinking about their ideas for their wish. We also wanted to give children that struggle to communicate a more visual way of expressing their wish through photos and drawings.

Our PowerApp

We used a Canvas App to bring our Wish Creator app to life.

  • The family of the child downloads the Make-A-Wish App, which can be used on a mobile or tablet.
  • The child is asked to fill in details about their interests to provide some background information about themselves and their desired wish to the wish visitor. All questions are tailored according to the age of the child.
  • The child has the option to upload photos to illustrate their chosen wish from the mobile device, or use the device camera to capture a picture of a drawing that they have done.
  • The app also connects to Pinterest and creates a board for the wish, so the family can visually represent the different elements of the experience.
  • All information is saved to Dynamics 365 for the wish visitor to view prior to their appointment.
  • At the wish visit, the wish visitor can ask further questions to clarify exactly what the child hopes to experience, and can add to or create a new Pinterest board with the child based on the answers to these questions.
  • Dynamics 365 tracks the date and details of the wish, and will automatically send an SMS to the parent to remind them before the wish.
  • During the wish experience, the app can be used to take photos and record the experience, enhancing the memories for the child and their family.

Children can answer questions about their interests to inform their wish visitor before they meet, then link to a Pinterest board to gather inspiration for their wish. 

Final thoughts

We were delighted to be crowned the winners of the hackathon following an exciting two days of building our app and learning about the charity. Charity representatives commented that we had really understood their challenges and build them an app that could start delivering value to their volunteers immediately.

We want to say a big thank you to Microsoft and all other partners for their hard work in putting on this excellent event. We could see the value that all of the apps would bring to the charity, and it was exciting to see innovative technology from HoloLens to IoT devices being used in creative ways to address real-world challenges.

Thanks too to Make-A-Wish UK, for sharing the incredible work they do every day and providing the inspiration for each team.

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