I drive up behind and say, “Boo!! Because it’s more fun when I scare the crap out of the kids!”
New connections are always exciting. I’m reflecting on this as we near the end of term 1, and students across Australia have settled into their schools for the year.
For many students, this was a return to their school from the previous year, while some transitioned to new schools, new starts, new friends. Others, however, were not there for the transition because serious illness or injury keeps them from experiencing these critical rights of passage, the moments of shared meaning. It is not just the classroom they are absent from.
All of this makes it harder for sick kids to connect with their community.
One of the best parts of running MissingSchool is helping students be there for these connections – so here’s a connection that we gladly made happen last year.
Meet eight-year-old Xavier, who was diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis at the age of two. Xavier is an exuberant, extroverted kid who loves to draw and hang out with people.
At the start of last year, Xavier moved to a completely new school, but dealing with chronic illness meant that it was very challenging for him to make new friends and settle in. Even though he wanted to be there, Xavier often felt too unwell to attend, and this meant that he missed over twelve months of school.
Xavier is what his mum Lisa likes to call “an extreme extrovert”. She says, “…he thrives on human connection and social interaction, so when he was unable to go to school for such a long time last year it was really awful for him,” adding that Xavier loved being around other kids and missed socialising.
Finding some way to properly engage with his community, make new friends, and build new connections, was going to be essential for Xavier.
Fortunately, late last year, Lisa reached out to our See-Be school connection service to get a telepresence robot for Xavier’s classroom. The very first time he heard it was available, he responded with an excited “Hell yes!” – he was thrilled to have the opportunity. And just before the end of the school year, Xavier dialled in to his robot for the first time and saw his new friends’ smiling faces.
This has proven invaluable when Xavier is in hospital for treatment, too. “On the days Xavier needs to be in hospital for treatment, being connected to school via the robot really brings him to life, it distracts him from what is a very painful process. He lights up when he connects with his classmates, it really brings some joy to an unpleasant experience.”
~ Lisa (Xavier’s mum)
This year, Xavier has continued using the robot to stay in touch whenever he cannot be in school. Being with other people is a huge motivation for him, and the robot has given him the energy and drive to continue with his schooling.
The team at MissingSchool will continue to support other kids, like Xavier, to have the opportunity to use the technologies we have available to access their school communities and learn alongside their peers.
Schools can do this for every sick kid who is missing school today.
We look forward to helping more students establish and maintain their school connections – as it’s through these connections that human relationships can thrive. If you want to help us to keep creating these wonderful connections, please donate today.
There are many ways to help:
- follow along and cheer us on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn
- share this newsletter with your family, friends, or colleagues so we can reach more sick kids, and
- donate towards getting a seriously sick child back into their classroom.
Every action moves us closer to the finish line: a world where every sick child is seen and heard.
Let’s keep connecting.