28 June 2024

“A medicine that can’t be administered in hospital”

Three images: two young children looking at screens and a small robot on a schooldesk

Image: A young girl and boy (left and right) join in their school classes remotely via AV1 robots (example pictured centre) that sit in their place on their school desks.

Zayan was just four years old when he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukaemia. We introduced his parents to a small, remote-controlled AV1 desktop robot that’s provided a vital missing link with his classroom, schoolwork and friends over the past couple of years when treatment or illness has prevented him from attending school. It’s helped him to be involved in lessons and feel part of the class again.

The introduction of the robot was made possible through our BubbleBusters project, an initiative that tackles the isolation of young people who can’t go to school because of issues related to immunity deficiencies. An AV1 desktop robot, produced by the company No Isolation, takes their place in the classroom and playground, and through it they can hear, see and speak to their friends and teacher from their home or hospital bed using an ultra-secure connection on a mobile phone or tablet.

Young boy in hospital looking at an iPad screen showing a classroom

Image: Zayan in hospital ‘attending’ class through an AV1 in his classroom. The screen has been edited in this image to show a representation of a classroom rather than his actual classroom, due to privacy restrictions.

The loan of the robot has been invaluable for the family during the periods when Zayan has been away from school. “It’s been working well for us,” said his mother. “We tend to use it when Zayan is in hospital for treatment, and the AV1 helps him feel more connected with his class. It’s really helped him keep on top of the actual learning.”

“The robot has changed my child’s life”

The emphasis on reconnection is echoed by other families who are benefitting from the project. We regularly check if to see if our loans are going well, and we received this fantastic feedback from the mother of another young girl recently.

“The robot has changed my child’s life,” she said. “Every child deserves to be at school and it’s so much easier because of the AV1.”

Her child had been able to keep pace with her learning thanks to her BubbleBuster robot. “Her development was so good that she was top of the class,” she said, “Which wouldn’t have happened without the AV1.”

She also stressed the invaluable reduction in social isolation. “People don’t realise how important social interaction is for children. It’s a medicine that can’t be administered in hospital.”

Young girl smiling at the camera from behind a tablet computer

Image: “[She] felt like she was part of the class.” A young girl using our one of our loan iPads at home to connect to her classroom through the AV1 robot that sits on her school desk.

The positive benefits of the intervention were also highlighted by the school.

“The AV1 has really transformed the learning of this pupil,” said the Acting Executive Head Teacher. “It supported her in returning to school and being a part of the class after a long absence. She had not met her class teacher or seen the classroom, and this helped with the transition – it otherwise would have been a lot of new things at once, which can be overwhelming.”

“The pupil felt like she was part of the class, but she could do so at her own pace as her health improved. With the control she had, she was able to join in when she was well and was able to focus.”

“The AV1 [also] helped the children understand why she was not in school. This really helped when she returned because for the children it was like she had been there for some time already and her friendships were able to grow.”

“For staff, it was a matter of remembering to charge the AV1 ready for the morning and to switch it on, which was a lot less stressful than it appeared at first.”

“[The AV1] helped us to broaden our understanding of how learning can be adapted. It’s a very powerful resource.”

We’re delighted that the BubbleBusters technology is tackling isolation and proving such a lifeline to education and a better quality of life. We’re currently connecting around 30 families with schools across the UK, and we look forward to our characterful little loan robots being reused again and again to help many more pupils in the future.

Find out more about our BubbleBusters Project here.