Travel for All: 2017 Non-Obvious Idea Dinner

What if there was an app to make air travel easier for adults with cognitive disabilities?

Earlier this month, 60 passionate leaders and change-makers gathered at the Residence of the Portuguese Ambassador for the Seventh Annual PathNorth Non-Obvious Idea Dinner. 60 unique ideas were pitched providing 60 Non-Obvious solutions to problems the world is currently experiencing. Member Don Bielinski won the evening with the idea to create an app to help those with cognitive disabilities see the world. 

2017 Non-Obvious Idea Dinner winner Don Bielinski with PathNorth Founder Doug Holladay and Executive-in Residence Adam Kaufman

2017 Non-Obvious Idea Dinner winner Don Bielinski with PathNorth Founder Doug Holladay and Executive-in Residence Adam Kaufman

The Twist?

Don presented the idea on behalf of a close family friend born with Down syndrome, who believes a meaningful life should include travel for adults, regardless of the challenges she and others may face. Don wants to make this idea a reality, pledging $10,000 to start the development process along with $5,000 from Senator Bill & Mrs. Sandy Brock and an offer from Ambassador Domingos Fezas Vital to host a fundraising dinner at his residence. If you want to join Don in his efforts, please contact the PathNorth Team.

Discover Alissa's idea and the ideas of the five other semi-finalists below. Let us know if you would like to learn more about how you can get involved with Don on his journey to providing Alissa, and millions of others, the opportunity for independent air travel.


Alissa's Non-Obvious Idea

Alissa (above) has an idea that could change the way people with disabilities travel

Alissa (above) has an idea that could change the way people with disabilities travel

Alissa is a very special 31-year-old woman, born with Down syndrome, who has lived independently for over ten years. She has successfully learned how to use Chicago public transportation, but faces the continuing challenge of navigating air travel. The airport is an intimidating place for most travelers (I have over four million miles of air travel, but still get absolutely bewildered in some foreign airports). Can you begin to imagine the experience for those with a developmental disability?

Idea: Create a smartphone app for people with developmental challenges and physical disabilities to make airport travel easier and less intimidating. The app will include a step-by-step, image/video/audio aided guide, from entering the departure airport to leaving the arrival airport.    

Imagine...before leaving your home, you enter the departure airport, arrival airport, and flight number into your smartphone. Once you arrive at the airport, GPS and internal mapping kick in, leading you step-by-step from the airport entrance to your plane.

The app would also assist with:

  • Identification and location of 'HELP' desk/staff
  • Connection to disability aware ride shares/taxis
  • Other: plane mapping, baggage claims, terminal service, etc.

Who Benefits? 1 in 5 or 53 million adults live with a disability. 10.6% of those adults experience cognitive challenges.

Allisa's View: Meaningful life should include travel for adults with mental and physical challenges. All adults want the ability to travel independently.

The above information was presented to PathNorth by Mr. Don Bielinski. Copyright © 2017, All rights reserved.


Seventh Annual Non-Obvious Idea Dinner Semi-Finalists


Non-Obvious Idea in Action

Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen launched the Campaign to Change Direction to educate Americans about mental health and raise awareness about Five Signs that may indicate someone is suffering emotionally and needs help.

Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen launched the Campaign to Change Direction to educate Americans about mental health and raise awareness about Five Signs that may indicate someone is suffering emotionally and needs help.

Honorary Partner, Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen is taking bold action to change how Americans take care of their mental well-being. Born out of her Non-Obvious Idea from our 2013 dinner, Dr. Van Dahlen launched the Campaign to Change Direction in 2015. With her Non-Obvious thinking, Dr. Van Dahlen is changing the world and leaving a meaningful and lasting legacy for generations to come.