2nd Grader Attends School Via An 'Avatar'


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Though we may all moan and groan about having to go to school each morning, the truth is that it is not all bad - I mean where else can you hang out with friends, complain about teachers and exchange carrots for cookies? Therefore, you can only imagine how Buffalo, NY resident Devon Carrow felt when he realized that he could not and may never be able to attend 'normal' school. Now, thanks to his alter ego, a 4-ft tall robot, he is able to do everything except . . . . Share his lunch.

Born with life-threatening allergies to peanuts, milk, eggs and numerous other foods, as well as, things like perfumes and fabric softeners, Devon's parents knew that there was no way the young boy would be able to survive in a normal classroom environment, especially since even breathing in an allergen could result in an anaphylactic shock. So, at the age of 5 when most kids are looking forward to going to kindergarten, Devon was confined to home schooling in complete isolation, something the whole family was resigned to doing for the rest of his life until, they heard about this incredible 'avatar'.

The 4-ft tall chrome and steel VGo robot that is fitted with a television screen and acts as a two way audio/video mobile communications system, may not be as cool looking as the one depicted by James Cameron, but it sure has opened a whole new world for Devon - One where he gets to experience school life on an day-to-day basis and interact real time, with his teachers and friends. The best part is that since the robot is mobile and has a battery life of eight hours, Devon can 'walk' to the library, chill out with his friends during breaks and lunch and even, join them on the playground.

Though life has improved immensely for the young boy since his 'Avatar' entered his life last January, things are still not easy. He has to carry his own popcorn and bring sheets to cover the seats when he goes out for movies. He cannot go out for play dates and if his friends want to come over, they have to shower and change their clothes before they are allowed to play with him. When he joins his boy scouts troupe for a camping trip, he not only carries his own food, but also, a special tent.

On the positive side, since the only foods he can safely consume are potatoes, corn and apples, he never encounters the dreaded broccoli - And, can have French fries for breakfast if he so wishes! He is also scheduled to undergo a special treatment program, which will hopefully improve his immunity so that he does not have to live such an isolated life.

While Devon is not the first kid to use this amazing robot, he is, the youngest. The first user of this VGo robot was Knox High School freshman Lyndon Baty. Diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney disease, a disorder that weakened his immune system so much, that just like Devon he was resigned to spending his life in isolation.

Fortunately, an enterprising salesman from VGo communications happened to call the school district even though he had no idea how it could be used, given that the technology had originally been developed for use in manufacturing plants to monitor production or for doctors to watch the health of elderly patients who are living independently. But the educators at Knox High School knew exactly what to do and soon Lyndon and his $6,000 USD alter ego were happily settled at school. Hopefully, as more schools and students discover the VGo, 'Avatars' strolling around hallways laughing and joking with friends, will become a common sight.

Resources: buffalonews.com,shine.yahoo.com

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