Committed to kids like Timea

Timea Ulrich was unable to attend school for almost a whole year due to her cancer treatment. The year 2 student missed her friends, her daily routine and even maths lessons. Then she got to know an avatar called Nao. Helsana’s robot provided a link between Timea and her class.

“What is 40 plus 5?” asks the teacher. Robot Nao puts up his hand. “Yes, Timea?” – “45,” answers Nao clearly and unambiguously, or more precisely: Timea does so as she is able to communicate in real time with her class thanks to videotelephony. “During the long months of her illness, Nao was the absolute highlight for Timea,” says her mother. She says that they were of course sceptical initially: how will she deal with the robot? How will her class react? Will he really help her daughter to remain educationally and socially integrated? “But when the sweet little guy was standing in our living room, we knew the answer,” says Timea’s father, “at the latest when he danced to the popular song Gangnam Style.” He can dance? “He also does yoga,” interjects Timea immediately. His actual task: to represent the year 2 student at school during her cancer treatment. “My heart exploded with pure joy like a bomb,” is how she describes the first time she met Nao.

Whenever Timea has enough strength for lessons, she turns on her tablet at home – and the teacher does the same with the robot. Nao then sits up in his chair, opens his eyes and looks around the room. The class excitedly gathers around in front of the robot and waves to “Timi”. They all have goosepimples including Timea: “The first time I saw my class on the screen was simply awesome!” Timea uses the tablet to perform tasks, chat, speak with others, watch things, write, draw, “really everything you do at school,” says Timea. Also fun things then. “Once my friend Elisa was alone in the classroom looking for something. Then I made Nao say: Elisa, what are you looking for?” She says her friend went as white as a sheet. “Precisely these types of episodes helped our daughter to feel as though she was right in the heart of the action in spite of the physical distance,” say her parents. The project was also a stroke of luck for her teacher. “After all, who has a robot in their class?” She says that she was happy to put in the extra time spent on technical issues like charging the battery and sending the tasks for the sake of her student. “Timea really was here,” confirms one of her fellow pupils. Or in the words of her friend Sabrina: “Nao was like Timea to me, only smaller.”


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