Bringing children in isolation with cancer back together with schools and friends
By working closely with schools and the families of children with cancer, our BubbleBusters Pilot Project will provide life-changing links that overcome isolation, rekindle friendships and restore access to education.
The need for this project
SpecialEffect's mission is to enhance the quality of life of people with severe physical challenges through access to specialised technology. Ever since the charity started this has included people with a wide range of needs due to various types of cancer.
Many children with cancer can’t go to school because of a high infection risk due to their severely weakened immune system. They’re no longer able to learn and play with their friends when they need them most.
Our BubbleBusters pilot project tackles this isolation and loneliness using a small, friendly desktop robot that takes the child’s place in the classroom and playground. Using the robot, the child is able to hear, see and speak to their friends and teacher from their home or hospital bed using a mobile phone or tablet.
BubbleBusters is currently only a small pilot project with a very limited number of desktop robots available for loan. However,
please do apply through the link at the bottom of this page if you meet the following criteria.
1. It's anticipated that the cancer treatment will keep the child away from school for about six months or more.
2. The child would be spending their time either in hospital, rehab, at home, or any combination of these.
3. A mobile phone or tablet could be made available for the child to use.
4. The child is of Primary or Secondary school age (ie from 5 to 18 years old)
5. The child is resident in the UK.
Seren is a six year-old girl who was diagnosed with leukaemia last year. During lessons, her desktop robot sits on her desk at school and attends lessons as if she were there herself, and can even ask and answer questions. Instead of putting her hand up, she makes a light flash on her robot’s head! At breaktimes, her friends take the robot outside with them so she doesn’t miss out on mixing with them socially.
"Seren loves school and still feels part of that community, and because of the robot she knows they haven’t forgotten her which is vital for when she eventually returns. the robot allowed her to have so many positive experiences; ten out of ten in spelling tests, reading her creative writing to her teacher and even playing games with her friends during Friday afternoon golden time!" - Seren's mum.
Sam was unable to go to school for over three years due to his ongoing treatment but the desktop robot reconnected him with his classmates and helped him begin to catch up on lost time with his schoolwork. Sam was our very first ‘BubbleBuster’ and the inspiration behind the whole project.
Through his example, we aim to enhance the lives of many, many more children with cancer by providing a way to reconnect with their friends and education to bring an end to their isolation.
'It's life-changing for an isolated child. They're not alone." - Sam's mum
As part of the project we're aiming to trial a range of telepresent devices to enable comparisons in terms of accessibility and functionality. Such devices include Double Robotic's Double 2 (left of image), and the GenieConnect (right) from Service Robotics Ltd.
We also aim to collaborate with telepresent developers to help make their devices more accessible to those with a wide range of severe physical challenges, such as the people we help to play video games and those we help through our StarGaze Project.
Apply for our help
If you think your child would benefit from our help AND the criteria above are met, please do apply. If you are 18 and require BubbleBuster support, please complete this form with your own details.
Please note that, at this stage, the pilot project has a limited number of desktop robots so, unfortunately, we’re not able to loan them to everyone who applies.
For all other enquiries about this pilot project, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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