How the Shine Foundation Helped Bring This Young Coder’s Recipe App to Life

Sooni Mohammed
The Shine Foundation

The Shine Foundation helps young people living with severe physical disabilities achieve their dreams, but it’s about so much more than that: it’s about giving them personalized experiences that allow them to see opportunities, possibilities and a sense of purpose in their futures. This is what happened to 18-year-old Sooni when the Shine Foundation gave him the opportunity to further develop his recipe-tracking app called Dishful

We recently chatted with Sooni and his mother Samia to learn more about the app and all the inspiration behind it. Read on for what it was like to create the app, how the Shine Foundation was able to help with this experience, Sooni’s favourite meals and what his next goals are. 

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A dash of app development passion

Sooni is a Grade 12 student living with cerebral palsy who has always been interested in coding, reading and app development. During the pandemic, Sooni began learning how to code and in 2021, he participated in and won the Swift Student Challenge by Apple where his submission was coming up with a program that would help people determine how much water to drink based on their Body Measurement Index (BMI), plus other characteristics. He was flown to Apple headquarters as part of his reward, which eventually unlocked his passion for app development. 

This is partly how Dishful came to life. Dishful is a recipe-tracking app where users can easily track, save, filter and organize recipes they download without having to endlessly scroll looking for them.  

A pinch of inspiration

As someone who loves to eat the meals his mom cooks — including his favourites of steak and mac and cheese, Sooni was ultimately inspired to create Dishful for his mom. “My mom likes to cook and she has all these recipes she cooks but has nowhere to put them, so I thought it would be a good idea to have one spot to save all the recipes,” he explains. 

Related: Best-Ever Pasta Recipes for Easy Dinners 

… The world is your oyster and whatever you think, what you want to do or be, there’s no reason why not.

Shine Foundation

Samia (left) and Sooni. Photo credit: The Shine Foundation

A cup of hard work

Working with the Shine Foundation, Sooni teamed up with App Guardians to develop his app and take it to the next level. The team worked hard with Sooni on different details like user design, which he also mentions is one of the most interesting parts of the process: “I hadn’t placed much thought on how the user would like to use the app and so they [helped] me out with that,” he says. Just recently, they launched a new version of the app.

In five years, Sooni has even bigger goals planned for Dishful: “I’m hoping to do some sort of AI. My idea would be to suggest a recipe to the user based on the time of day it is, that’ll be cool,” he says. Sooni also aspires to help pay for university with the income he’s earned from Dishful and have a full team of his own. “I hope to have a few of the developers on the app with me so we [can] publish faster and build more cool features.”

Additionally, he hopes to create another tracking app, but this time with books. Lately, Sooni has been infatuated with philosophy in particular. “I am really getting into reading, so I thought a lot about making a reading tracker to track how many books I read and save that on some sort of app,” says Sooni. 

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A message to other young people who have a dream

Sooni and Samia hope that other young people with severe physical disabilities can turn to the Shine Foundation to help them achieve their goals while still being themselves. As the foundation’s approach is to give young people a sense of their futures, Samia loves that they not only supported Sooni’s needs but they gave him this opportunity through a personalized experience. 

“They say ‘Tell us your story and what you are doing,’ and they find a way to make that thing happen. They take that and they run with it, which is beautiful,” Samia explains. “We’ve been in this for a long time, and a lot of organizations that do support kids with special needs will add things to your life to make [your life] easier, but are they actually hitting what it is that makes the individual great?”

As Sooni puts it: “The world is your oyster and whatever you think, what you want to do or be, there’s no reason why not. And all you have to do is ask the right questions and the answers will come to you,” which is exactly what the Shine Foundation allowed the young coder to do. 

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