CONWAY, Ark. (KTHV) - 30 million people in the U.S. are suffering from an eating disorder, according to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA). One on those suffering here in Arkansas is using technology to try to find a road to recovery.
Alexa Donley started an app and web design project to complete a high school EAST class requirement, but now she's a freshman at UCA and it means much more to her than a passing grade.
“I was diagnosed with anorexia the summer before my senior year,” said Donley.
During this time, Donley said the biggest thing holding her health back was numbers.
“You get so hyper-focused on weight, calories, and fat grams,” said Donley.
As part of her recovery Alexa had to write down every calorie she consumed, which she said is daunting to go from 200 calories a day to forcing 2,000 in her body a day.
“I noticed that it was really hard to just write down everything I ate in one day on this one piece of paper and have it just staring back at me,” said Donley.
So, Donley said to herself, "I can create an app for that!"
“The app calculates how you're doing on your goals based on the information you put in,” said Donley.
The app and website is called "Fulfill." In this app, the numbers are gone and replaced with fuel gauges.
“As you eat and you put it into the app, your fuel goes up,” said Donley.
She was given the chance to develop her dream and recovery tool through her EAST initiative class.
“It evolved out of an idea,” said Spencer Watson, communications manager of EAST Initiative.
EAST is an initiative designed to give students technology skills to prepare them for today's ever evolving work force.
“But also soft skills, our students learn how to present, they learn how to negotiate,” said Watson.
The EAST Initiative was born in one classroom in Arkansas in the early 1990's and has since grown to more than 20,000 students in 5 states.
“You work with people in your community,” said Donley.
In Donley's case, she's helping the community she's a part of.
“I want to feel like I’m fulfilling a purpose,” said Donley.
Through this app she’s changing perspective from counting to charging.
“Food being fuel, instead of a bad thing,” said Conley.
Donley is looking for a partner to help her with continued coding and development of “Fulfill”.
If you're interested or want to hear about other projects just like this one, EAST Initiative is having an open house Thursday night from 4-7 p.m. at the EAST headquarters in West Little Rock - 6215 Ranch Dr, Little Rock, AR 72223
The event is open to the public. There will also be a silent auction.