Bob Bot helps Olivia battle the isolation blues

Friday, November 17th, 2023

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Smiling girl holding a small desktop robot

Olivia was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in January 2021, just before her ninth birthday. Her school already had a robust system in place for home learning following the COVID-19 pandemic but for Olivia, it meant yet another stretch of isolation away from her school friends following lockdown and long periods of time spent in hospital.

Her family contacted our BubbleBusters team, who liaised with her school to introduce a small remote-controlled desktop robot that Olivia named Bob Bot. Through it, Olivia was able to join her friends in class and take part in lessons from home, a difference that meant the world to her. From small group work to whole school assemblies – and even break time fun – she could be part of it all. The impact on her academic work was also amazing; in her last year at primary school Olivia achieved the highest SATs scores for her year. Olivia finished treatment in June 2023 and was able to start attending secondary school in person later that year.

“Thank you so much for lending us the robot,” said Rachel, Olivia’s mother, “the difference it made can’t be underestimated. She was so worried about losing touch with her friends.”

“The work you do makes such a difference to children’s lives.”

More about our BubbleBusters Project

Our BubbleBusters project is an initiative that tackles the isolation of young people like Olivia who can’t go to school because of a high infection risk due to their severely weakened immune system. As well as falling behind with schoolwork, many are concerned about missing out on vital ongoing quality time with their friends.

Our team link the family and the school to introduce the project. An AV1 desktop robot produced by the company No Isolation takes their place in the classroom and playground, and through it they are able to 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.

Image above: Olivia holding Bob Bot in October 2023, just before he’s returned to SpecialEffect to help other young people.