Our mission

We help teens and caregivers:

  • understand the science underlying pain rehab and management
  • follow doctors’ and therapists’ advice by providing visual tools that help you find a path that works for you
  • celebrate every step that moves you forward

Born of Pain

This project was born of pain.  Not my own pain, but my son’s.

Dr. Darling and son

My name is Nancy Darling.  As a developmental psychologist, I’ve studied parent-adolescent relations in the US, South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. All of that theory came crashing down when suddenly, out of the blue, my healthy, happy son had his first migraine.  Within six months he was curled up in his bed, under the covers, in the dark, shaking from pain.  School, friends, time with family – every simple thing that makes up the life of a healthy teen – seemed suddenly out of reach.

All the advice I was given – good research-backed treatment from some of the best specialists in the world – seemed impossible to implement and completely counter-intuitive.

“Send your child to school”
“Follow a strict diet.”
“Aerobic exercise, 5 times a week.”
“3 liters of water a day.”
“He’s got to meditate.”

Did they have any idea what it was like parenting a kid in pain?  I got excellent advice, but it all seemed impossible when my son could barely stumble to the bathroom.

Our goal is to use cutting edge developmental science to help teens living with chronic pain take back their lives, one step at a time. 

1step2life supports teens taking active control of their lives and parents as effective coaches

What does the 1step2life app do?

We provide teens with the knowledge and tools they need to plan how best to follow their caregivers’ instructions. 

Then we provide information for parents so they can work effectively as coaches to support their child in their path towards better functioning. 

Finally, we help teens and parents see and celebrate every step forward. Because when you’re in pain, making it from the bed to the couch is a victory and getting to school is a major triumph.

With chronic pain, it’s easy to feel lost, overwhelmed, and helpless.  Our goal is to help you take those first steps towards a better life.

LaunchU: Living The Startup Life

Oberlin College famously believes that one person can change the world. That’s reflected in the startup incubator run by their Center for Innovation and Impact.

Nancy Darling, Charlie Maddox, Max Kramer, and Emily Marcus spent an intense January in LaunchU, Oberlin’s Shark Tank-like incubator. Fledgling founders learned business basics, refined and pitched their ideas, and vied for startup funds in three rounds of competition.

In March 2019 their hard work paid off. 1step2life was awarded the top prize from an initial field of 42 Oberlin students, alum, and faculty. Now on to the hard work – taking an idea – supporting parents and teens – and turning it into something that people can really use.

Doctors tell teens in pain what they need to do to take back their lives. But it’s often parents who help their teens do it. The concept behind the 1step2life app is simple: use cutting edge rehabilitation and developmental science to support teens in pain and those who love them.

Follow Our Journey

We have been working to turn research into words, ideas into films, words into websites, and vague ideas into an app you can download from the App Store and Google Play.

Follow our progress in the Behind The Scenes blog.

Let’s Keep In Touch

We want to make this site and the 1step app the most helpful resource we can. If you are a teen in pain or a parent who is trying to help and support your child, we want to hear from you. If you’re a healthcare provider, a school nurse, or a teacher working with youth in pain, we want to hear from you.

We will be launching the 1step2life app in Summer 2020!

Sign up for our newsletter and get involved as we try out alpha and beta versions of our app and we develop more content to make this the best resource it can be.