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Telepresence robot program partners with Gala of Hope Foundation to help children with cancer

Gala of Hope logoAssistive Technology of Ohio, a federally funded nonprofit organization that is part of The Ohio State University College of Engineering, has received a $100,000 grant from the Gala of Hope Foundation.

The grant will fund AT Ohio’s installation of a school telepresence program for Dayton-region pediatric cancer patients. This innovative technology allows a child, kept from physical attendance by treatment or immunity needs, to virtually attend school and school activities using an interactive iPad and telepresence robot. Up to four Dayton-area patients will benefit from this program in 2019-20 and five in 2020-21, most in cooperation with Dayton Children’s Hospital.

AT Ohio began setting up telepresence robots for Ohio children with disability or health challenges in 2017. In total, they have placed 20 robots in classrooms throughout the state—Worthington, Hilliard, Springfield, McArthur, Albany, Ansonia and Lebanon, with previous placements in South Charleston and Middletown.

“The primary beneficiaries of our school telepresence program are children fighting cancer,” said AT Ohio Director Bill Darling. “Their serious medical diagnosis is often coupled with a period of isolation if they are removed from their regular school routine.”

With telepresence robots in their classrooms, the students are able to "beam in" to class from home, the hospital, or anywhere they may be in the world. In addition to being able to see and hear everything going on, the students are also able to move the robot around the classroom and throughout the school. The students remain in contact with their friends and classmates, which helps reduce the isolation and keep them progressing academically. 

telepresence robot in school hallwayimage courtesy of Worthington Schools (https://youtu.be/tpLi4BjN1p0)Darling and his AT Ohio team purchases the robots, installs them in the classrooms, and provides training to school personnel and the student's family. They are also available for ongoing technical support to keep the robots working optimally. 

The first placement under the Gala of Hope Foundation partnership occurred last week for a student at Eastmont Elementary in Dayton. 

AT Ohio is the officially designated Tech Act program for Ohio. Each state and U.S. territory provide appropriate services under the guidelines of the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, as amended in 2004.

Gala of Hope Foundation is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization founded in 2014 to serve the Dayton region as a financial resource for cancer patients, cancer treatment, and local cancer research.  At its core, Gala of Hope Foundation was created and is sustained by gifts from generous people committed to changing the face of cancer in the Dayton region. The Foundation serves as a grant maker and a voice for Dayton region cancer patients and its cancer care community.