About Us

Giving Science Away

Since 1984, 1step2life‘s Founder, Nancy Darling, has been studying teenagers’ social relationships. Teens and their parents differ in the US, the Philippines, Chile, Sweden, Italy, and Uganda. But they have at least one thing in common: parents try to get kids to do things, and teenagers resist. Studying how and why adolescents choose to do what their parents ask has provided foundational research for our app: 1step2life.

Dr. Darling and son
Dr, Darling and her youngest son

In 2014, Dr. Darling’s youngest son went from a healthy kid to hiding under his covers, shaking from severe pain. It was a turning point for both her life and her research. In doctors offices, in hospitals, with physical therapists and psychologists, teens in pain were just teens. And the more time she spent talking to the mothers, fathers, grandmothers, friends, and supporters of kids in pain, the clearer it was. Developmental psychology – the branch of psychology that focuses on age-related changes in behavior – could help make pain rehabilitation more effective. Teens living with chronic pain respond very differently than little kids or adults do. The management of their care – which balances their own judgment with the support and care they need from parents – is different as well.

Working with Dr. Paul Thibodeau and a team of students, she interviewed adolescents about their experience with pain, how they thought about it, and how they kept going despite it. One area of research was how metaphors that helped or hindered working with pain. They also took Dr. Darling’s previous work on understanding when teens did what their parents asked and when they lied or argued instead. They applied that work on the legitimacy of parental authority to understanding why teens followed doctors’ orders and when they did not.

The reasons why teenagers don’t always listen to doctors are the same reasons they don’t always listen to parents. Teens want autonomy and they want to understand the whys, not just the whats, of pain rehab.

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, 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 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 Progress!

Since March, we have been working to turn research into words, ideas into films, prose 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.

Help Us Help You!

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.

Sign up for our newsletter and be 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.