Robot gives students a virtual presence in school

Student recovering from surgery at Barbara Bush Children's Hospital uses VGo to stay current in school

BERWICK, Maine (Tim Goff, WCSH NEWS CENTER) - Not every child is lucky enough to enjoy time with their friends during the school year or over summer vacation as they undergo treatment in the hospital or while they recover at home, but Grahamtastic Connection is using hi-tech tools to keep kids connected.

Last spring, Prime Motor Group donated a VGo Robot to the non-profit organization - which has provided more than 950 laptops to kids throughout the country over the past 16 years. Two more were donated by people who wish to remain anonymous. All three have been provided, free of charge, to families while their child undergoes treatment in the hospital or recovers at home.

"It just transports them right into the classroom," explained Leslie Morisette, Grahamtastic's founder. "I think that is what really makes it unique."


The VGo not only allows kids to communicate face-to-face via cameras and monitors, but it also roams the halls and sits in class wherever the operator chooses to go.

"It has worked out perfectly," stated Melanie Stevens, a teacher at Noble Middle School. "It really has not been as disruptive as someone might think."

She says the first day VGo showed up in their school kids did get up in its face, but they soon learned how to act around it. She says it may have been more of an adjustment for the teachers as they got used to the minor lag time in communicating back and forth with their students.

Sixth grader, Kailee Sprague, was given the opportunity to use a VGo after having surgery at Barbara Bush Children's Hospital.

"It is really cool because I get to drive it around wherever I need to go," exclaimed Kailee, though she admits controlling the robot remotely took some getting used to.

"I've hit a few things like desks and walls," she said.

She says having the chance to stay connected with her friends, and caught up on her school work has been a nice distraction while she recovers.

"It is pretty amazing," said Kailee's mom, Jennifer. "It makes her feel connected. It helps her be there. Education is important. She is a good student and she doesn't want to miss everything that is going on in her world."

Grahamtastic Connection is now accepting applications from families that would like to use a VGo this fall. You can find more information about eligibility requirements and how to apply by visiting their website.