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Cancer robot delivers school lessons and reduces loneliness

PUBLISHED: 08:50 08 May 2019 | UPDATED: 16:29 08 May 2019

The robot can help with lessons and bring comfort

The robot can help with lessons and bring comfort

Archant

A robot that takes the classroom to a cancer sufferer wherever they are in the world has been introduced in Bromley.

Lewis hard at work thanks to his robotLewis hard at work thanks to his robot

Around 35,000 children in the UK are battling long-term illness and the inevitable absences from school can be as devastating as the illness itself.

Educators and parents have been waiting for a practical solution, and now there looks like it has been discovered.

The AV1 robot is equipped with a microphone, loudspeaker and camera.

That means it can be the child's eyes, ears and voice in the classroom creating a real-time, interactive, app-based connection with school, wherever the child is.

Lewis hard at work thanks to his robotLewis hard at work thanks to his robot

Now the Chartwell Cancer Trust is the first UK charity to introduce this pioneering solution in the South East region giving young cancer and leukaemia patients a lifeline back to school life, education and normality during their treatment period and beyond.

The Trust, with the support of Clarkson Wright and Jakes and Vinci Facilities, has raised funds to enable 12 of the robots and children to be paired.

There are plans to expand this further based on the success of the trials and the growing demand.

For Orpington teenager Lewis Kelly, one of the young people involved in the trials, the arrival of the AV1 robot has been a game-changing development in his treatment journey.

The robot can help with lessons and bring comfortThe robot can help with lessons and bring comfort

Lewis' mother Kerri said: "Thanks to the robot, Lewis is now able to keep up with his core subjects - it's incredible to see him tune into class on the move between appointments and immerse himself in his lessons during check-ups and chemotherapy sessions."

With major academic milestones on the horizon such as mock GCSEs, this robot is making all the difference both to Lewis' daily reality and also to his future.

For Lewis and his family, the impact of this technology cannot be overstated allowing Lewis to reclaim his education, his friendships, his independence and his identity, the Trust points out as high tech advances continually presents new possibilities and opportunities.

Kerri is so happy with how it has gone so far during the trials of the AV1 device that she understand it has become a major influence in her son's life.

She said: "Treatment becomes such a massive part of his life, but underneath he's just a normal 14-year old. So being able to make his friends laugh at the push of a button, to sit next to his best mate in class again - these little details mean the world to my son."

The Trust is hosting an AV1 Robot Demonstration and Awareness Evening on Wednesday 15th May, 7- 9pm at Oakley House, Bromley in collaboration with manufacturers No Isolation.

This is a Norwegian start-up company launched four years ago with a mission is to reduce involuntary loneliness and social isolation by developing communication tools that help those affected, particularly when it comes to vital schooling and education. Often children can become cut off sometimes at what are critical times of their lives.

Their AV1 was designed in consultation with teachers and scientists at the ?University of Oslo? and The Norwegian Cancer Society?, since launching in 2016, AV1 units - lightweight and friendly-looking robots - have been used by more than 200 children in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands.

The Chartwell Cancer Trust and their work with local young oncology patients means all their trustees, staff and supporters feel passionately about supporting all patients undergoing treatment for cancer and leukaemia in the South London and north Kent areas, but particularly children and adolescents who can suffer the most when it comes to being isolated from friends.

They said: "Being treated for these illnesses can take an enormous toll and we want to do all we can to make things easier.

"This is a chance for all parents and their children to witness the magic of this technology first-hand and find out how to support the project.

Anyone wanting more information can phone 01959 570322 or email

info@chartwellcancertrust.co.uk.

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