Girl with cancer goes to school from her hospital bed using a robot

A robot is helping a seven-year-old girl with cancer continue to attend school from her hospital bed.

Seren Mawson has spent months in hospital receiving chemotherapy and other treatment after being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

She has been desperate to return to school and see her friends, but her illness means that’s just not possible.

So her mum, Kate, a university lecturer, came up with a solution; a way to give Seren contact with her friends and access to her education without her leaving her hospital bed.

That solution is ‘mini Seren’, a robot that sits in the classroom at Twycross House School near Atherstone, Warwickshire, with the other children.

Seren uses a camera to join in, communicates with her friends and teachers using a micropphone, and even uses an iPad to move ‘mini Seren’ around and get the robot to nod or shake its head.

Kate told ‘Seren has always enjoyed school and it was one of the things she was most worried about not being able to do; she didn’t want to miss her friends and miss out on what they were doing.

‘She got so much pleasure out of seeing her friends through the robot; she felt part of the community and they involved her as much as possible.

‘We have an iPad on our end and the robot sits on her desk in school. It has a light on its head and a camera; she can see the whole class.

‘She can do quiet group work with her friends and put her hand up through the light.

‘People have had an insight into how isolating it can be having to self-isolate. Children are so social and can be left behind and forgotten about very easily so the fact that the robot kept her connected meant we could confidently go forward every day with one less worry.’

Seren still faces more gruelling treatment, not expected to end until May next year.

Throughout that, her robot will stay in her Year Two class to ensure she isn’t missing out.

Seren was diagnosed with cancer when she was just five years old.

SpecialEffects, a charity that helps those with disabilities, donated the school the gadget in a gift of kindness.

Kate, of Atherstone, added: ‘They gave us the robot free of charge and they went to Seren’s school to show them how to use and install it.

‘Seren finishes treatment in May and if the cancer has completely gone, well then the robot will be a lifesaver.

‘Seren is a superstar; she’s amazing, positive, strong and she thinks about other people. All the way through treatment she’s done fundraising and has managed to raise over £30,000 for charity.

‘The teachers would go above and beyond, even taking it outside for geography class when the children were mapping their favourite places in the school grounds; everyone has been so supportive and if it wasn’t for that, her story would be very different.

‘Chemotherapy caused her immune system to weaken meaning she couldn’t always go to school – it was too unsafe for her.

‘If she did get an infection, her body wouldn’t be able to fight it off so the robot was essential in making sure she didn’t feel like she was missing out whilst also helping to keep her safe.

‘Without it, she would have felt extremely isolated but with the help of the AV2, she was able to confidently return to school now and then and we hope that one day we can give the robot to another family who may need it just as much as we did.’

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