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A Brief Oral History of Wicked Focus: Helping Others and Ourselves

Zach Davis & Morgan

During 2015-2016 school year, members of Dan Ryder and Chad Brackett’s Humanities class, a team-taught ninth grade English and Social Studies course at Mt. Blue Campus in Farmington, Maine, evolved a 3D printing design challenge into a classroom-based entrepreneurial business: WickedFocus.com. Wicked Focus designs and produces 3D printed fidgets for individuals struggling with stress and anxiety. The following provides a brief history of the company from the perspective of two founding members who learned a great deal about themselves during the time developing their products.

Mo: Entering into high school, I was hit hard with what I didn’t want to admit I had: anxiety. I wasn’t sure who I had around me that I could trust, which made it worse. I slowly gained friends, but it didn’t help. I freaked out every time I was around too many people.

Zack: I learned that high school isn’t the easiest thing I’ll do in my life and I’m only a freshman. High school has so many aspects to which teenagers are vulnerable: the social life, the academics, the teachers, the schedule, even the huge building. There was a lot of stuff that I had to get used to that year and Humanities class was definitely one of the most confusing but most worth it. Sure the teachers are kinda crazy, but who isn’t in their own way?

Mo: While I was enrolled in Humanities, I had my first ever breakdown. From there I started counseling where I was told to start using little toys for distraction, along with a stress ball. I tried and tried to find something to keep me calm but it seemed useless. I found myself stuck in my music a lot.

Zack: I learned that I had ADHD that year so yeah I’m pretty crazy. But crazy and crazy go together in some cases so I think that’s why I really liked Humanities. All my other classes are already programmed in my brain because I’ve been dealing with them for my whole life as a student in school: science, math, PE, orchestra, even social studies and English. I’m used to all of those. But this class was far different from any class I’ve ever experienced. [The teachers] teach you to think in different ways and think outside the box, [they] teach you how to doodle and let your brain just throw itself onto a piece of paper with your ideas. The harder you throw your brain the better the mark and the better you’ll just accept Humanities as a class.

Mo: Eventually in Humanities we started a project called the fidget project where we designed 3D printed fidgets to help people with stress and anxiety. (We ended up naming the company WickedFocus.com) That opened me up to a whole new world. I was finding a way to help myself, to not have to rely on what others can think of to find my happy place. The empathy work Mr. Ryder had us do really helped me find what helps others deal with anxiety while figuring out what I need as well. Others may not have loved what I designed and critiqued it, but I still use it to this day.

Zack: It’s definitely a good thing to take a step back sometimes and actually see the people around that might be having problems to which you relate. The great thing about doing this is by exploring other people’s minds, it could help you to figure out new ways to cope. Pretty much what I’m trying to say is, stepping out there isn’t only helping others, but can help you too.

Mo: We eventually moved on to our next project but he offered to keep the fidget project going for kids who wanted to continue with it along with our normal school work. Many people, including me, kept it going and started WickedFocus.com

Zack: Working in Humanities class taught me how to write, really reach deep, drag whatever creativity I had left in the tank, mold it and use that little bit to make it into something bigger. We started a company, WickedFocus.com, where we made something new; it gave us a new experience in our school lives, an experience that a lot of us will never forget.

Mo: The numbers of our original Wicked Focus team aren’t the same today as they were, but no matter what stuff I need to get done for school, I still commit myself to this achievement. I like thinking with my take-take-take from the world, I’m able to give back by creating ways people can find their way out of the torturous cycle that is your brain. Not only that, but it’s a cheap way of doing it.

Zack: A lot of things are possible if you just look from different perspectives. Look through another person’s eyes; try to feel what they feel, see what they see. Understand them as another person and use their insight to help you expand yourself and be able to branch out into other people’s lives. There will always be another way to look at a situation, whether it’s a new perspective through your eyes or another’s. Use Person A’s information to grow off of Person B’s. If you need help seeing that situation from someone else’s point of view? Ask.

Mo: I like to think that I’m giving back to people, because I feel like most of the time I’m taking. I go to a lot of counseling and I’m thinking about going into art therapy. This project seems to be preparing me for that in that we designed fidgets for people to use.

Zack: I know how it feels to be stressed out and full of anxiety. So I want to help as many people as I can that feel the same. It was cool to think how I’m making something new that could potentially help people. Last year I found out that life will hardly ever give you life on a silver platter. I still need help asking for help. But it’s okay. Because as soon as you find who your true friends are, they will support you and tell you everything is okay even if it seems that everything is cloudy. I found my true friends. I made new friends and got a better understanding of someone I didn’t think I would be able to connect with on the level we did.