Teen shielding while being treated for leukaemia says his life will be transformed thanks to portable robot allowing him to attend school remotely
Shielding teen leukaemia sufferer says his life will be transformed thanks to portable robot allowing him to attend school remotely
A teen boy shielding at home while being treated for leukaemia can ‘sit’ in class and chat to his mates at playtime thanks to a portable robot at his school.
The telepresence robots will make it possible for Alan Slomka, 13, to stay ahead of his learning and socialise with friends while recovering from a lifesaving op.
The AV1 robot, which cost around £2,500, will take his place in class which will allow Alan to see, hear and speak to his teachers and classmates through a live feed camera.
The robot is mobile so can be transported around the school, meaning Alan can join in with playtime and lunch breaks with his friends.
Alan was first diagnosed with cancer in 2017 aged just nine. He underwent treatment but was told the cancer had returned in February this year.
The 13-year-old has been told to stay off school because he has a weak immune system having just had a bone marrow transplant. Since diagnosis he has missed over a year of school.
The robots are being offered by The Raedwald Trust which runs a group of alternative provision schools in Suffolk including Ipswich Hospital School which is supporting Alan.
Alan, from Ipswich said: “It will make such a big difference to me because I miss my friends so much, it is hardest thing about being off school for so long.
“The virus has made things even harder for me because I am not strong enough at the moment to go to school. This robot is amazing, it is the closest thing I have to being there right now.
“I am looking forward to catching up in History class as it is my favourite lesson. I love learning about the Kings and Queens and wars and stuff. I miss it so much.”
Alan’s mum Anna who is a full-time career to her son says the robot is a real lifeline.
She added: “He is such a good boy, he does not complain, just gets on with it and tries to be in a good mood but I know it gets to him.
“His friends are growing up so fast and he is missing out on a lot of it. He has not been in school for over a year and it looks like to be a lot longer now after the operation and this virus still around.
“We cannot thank the Raedwald Trust enough for investing in our son. It will make a big difference in his life. There are so many children that can benefit from this technology.”
Alan was introduced to his robot buddy at the Raedwald Trust’s launch of the Medical Needs in School programme which offers teachers mental and physical wellbeing training and workshops.
Currently four students are using robots donated to schools by the Raedwald Trust.
CEO Angela Ransby said: “’We are absolutely delighted that we have been able to bring this important technology to where it is vitally needed.
“With the funds donated to us by the Wolfson Foundation to purchase the robots, we are going to be able to support schools to keep their children living with medical or mental health needs connected to their classrooms and their peers.
“Quite simply, the robots have the power to change children’s lives.”
Andrew Green, headteacher at Copleston High School, said: “We are extremely grateful to the Raedwald Trust for providing this remarkable technology to our school and students.
“I know this will make a huge difference to Alan’s life not just in terms of his academic performance but also in helping him to stay connected to his friends and the school community.
“It is because of the outstanding support given to us by the Raedwald Trust that we are able to provide an extremely high standard of education to all of our students, irrespective of any barriers that they might face.”