A year ago, the Digging Deep team was brainstorming in Sheri’s kitchen. In just two years, we had distributed 25,000 copies of Digging Deep Journal, mostly to children’s hospitals and other children’s health organizations (maybe even to some of you!). We only had 10,000 books left so knew we had to come up with another way to continue reaching as many sick kids as possible, and we needed to join them where they are—in the digital world.
While new medicines and new techniques were helping young people survive many serious health problems, this also left more and more kids to deal with the emotional aftermath of illness. Serious or chronic health conditions are literally traumatic — while medicine is doing a better job of healing the body, what about healing the soul?
These truths led us to an exciting and terrifying commitment: We would create a game to help build resilience in young people facing serious health challenges. This Monday we are SO PROUD to announce that our ideas have become real. Shadow’s Edge, the first game designed to help teens and young adults with health challenges find their resilience is available for FREE download on iTunes and Google Play.
Honestly, our journey creating this game tested our own resilience! We were so lucky to have the help of Rosemary Lokhorst, an experienced manager in the tech community, who brought in Kevyn Eva Norton to work closely with Sheri Sobrato Brisson and our Teen Experts in designing the game. The game developer, Little Chicken Game Company took on the project as a labor of love and their creativity and passion is now obvious on every screen of the game.
As a 30-year brain cancer survivor herself, Sheri knows how hard it can be to be in touch with your feelings while in the thick of treatments. And it was her courage to reconnect with this person she was as a young adult cancer survivor that provided the focus we needed to make this game happen. At our two San Francisco Bay Area launch events this week, Sheri spelled out why this is more than just another app:
Not everyone has an opportunity to talk about their trauma with a therapist. Young people may be even be more comfortable working through their feelings in their own timing, in the digital space where they live and learn. At Digging Deep, we’ve always said that journaling can do what medicine alone cannot; it can heal the heart. It’s this healing, on the level of not just thoughts but emotions, that can truly help young people transition through illness to a place defined by their resilience and not their trauma.
In the game, teens 13+ are transported to the city of Shadow’s Edge where they have an opportunity to revive a city left dark and disrupted by a storm. It’s the players’ quest to find and write on journal pages and to express themselves by making graffiti. Through their self-expression, players bring vibrancy back to the city. Along the way, they have help — the Guardians of Disruption, Disillusionment and Discovery, who send players on missions to look inside themselves for answers to tough questions and discover wisdoms hidden in the city. As players heal the city, they heal themselves. And through in-game community, players can share their words and art with others, building camaraderie and understanding that they are not alone in their struggles. Reviving the city alone, teens can explore the issues surrounding their illness. Together, they can spread what they learn. At the end, they can look back to see how truly far they have come.
That is Shadow’s Edge.
Garth Sundem is a parent, husband, and author of books including “Real Real Kids, Real Stories, Real Change”.