Waikato alumna’s rainbow connection

6 April 2018

University of Waikato alumna Tracy Hardy.

There’s something magical about rainbows. The mere sight of one on an otherwise drizzly horizon is enough to unleash a child’s imagination. We may be used to kids searching for the elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, singing a rainbow or visualising faraway lands over the rainbow. But what about eating a rainbow?

Seasoned traveller, travel blogger, photographer and University of Waikato alumna Tracy Hardy recently developed the Eat a Rainbow app to encourage kids to make good food choices by eating as many colours of fruit and vegetables during the day to fill up a rainbow.

Tracy has seen and shot her fair share of rainbows but she’s changed tack from her eight-year stint as a photographer for Sun Media and will spend more time marketing the app, aimed at 3-6 year olds, so they can reap more tangible rewards from their rainbow interactions.

Eat a Rainbow is a vision I had years ago and thought I should give it a go otherwise it would always be sitting inside my head with me wondering ‘what if?’”

Tracy gathered some art supplies, put her vision on paper and found a developer to do the technical work. They turned her diagram into the app which can now be downloaded onto Android devices, iPads and iPhones.

With 44 different fruit and vegetables listed in each of the five rainbow categories of purple, green, red, orange/yellow, and white, the aim of the game is to educate kids on the benefits of getting a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants into their daily diet.

“If one child eats one fruit or vegetable after playing the app, then I’m happy. If it encourages them to become more interested in eating them regularly, I’d be delighted."

The app is fun and interactive with the spinoff that it helps with vocabulary as well. Kids can learn and recognise the food item, then hear, say and spell the word. While its educational component makes the app an ideal tool for early childcare centres and new entrant classes here and in other Western countries, Tracy is keen to develop it for the overseas market to teach kids whose second language is English.

Selling an app wasn’t even a thing when Wellington-born and Bay of Plenty-raised Tracy first enrolled at Waikato in the mid-90s in a Bachelor of Social Science with majors in human resources and industrial relations, but her follow-up Graduate Diploma in Marketing has certainly come into its own.

Every job she’s had, from HR in London and teaching English in Japan, to her creative endeavours in photography and blogging, have broadened her skill set and prepared her to be the jack-of-all-trades necessary as a sole business owner.

“Looking back at university, I would probably say to keep your options open, there are jobs in the future which haven’t been invented. Having good skills and a good head on your shoulders will make you ready for most things.”

Outside work, Tracy indulges her passion for travel with a goal of cracking 50 countries by the time she’s 50. She’s not far off reaching that target having knocked off India, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Singapore last year.

Her other hobby is cross-pollinating hibiscus plants and the self-described “Hibiscus Dr Frankenstein” has over 40 plants with no clue what colour the flowers will turn out to be. At a guess, probably rainbow.

Search Eat a Rainbow to download Tracy’s app from Apple Store or Play Store or visit her website for more information, recipes and healthy eating tips.

Check out a sneak peak of the Eat a Rainbow app here.

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