Today, March 7, 2023, I attended a tour at Mote Aquarium to meet the WeGo Robot. This was a heartwarming experience to see how the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, is partnering with the WeGo Project to provide hospitalized children with an unforgettable experience.
As a Floridian, I’ve always been a big fan of Mote Aquarium. It’s a place where you can learn about marine life and the impact it has on our environment. So, when I heard that they were teaming up with the WeGo Project to offer private, guided tours using telepresence robots, I was thrilled and attended on behalf of Don411.com – A free online newsletter!
The Double 3 robot can be controlled by hospitalized children, which turns a pediatric patient into a person who can interact with the world. Using a computer, or iPad, to drive the webcam, allows patients to see, hear, talk, and move around the aquarium as if they were physically there.
The goal of the program is to ease anxiety and isolation that comes with pediatric inpatient hospitalizations, and I think it’s a wonderful way to do so.
Natalie Marrero, the WeGo Program Manager, suggested Mote as the next location for the project. Being from Florida herself, Natalie is excited to expand the program in her hometown and recalls the joy she felt as a child visiting Mote Aquarium.
According to WeGo Project founder Galen Shi, the robot allows patients to escape their hospital beds and just be kids again. Although WeGo primarily connects patients from local hospitals, the physical distance is not an issue. That’s the whole point of the robot, to take kids somewhere they wouldn’t normally be able to go.
Children can drive the robot anywhere in the tour space, which often brings them joy and a sense of control. They’re not the center of attention because they’re the sick kid, but because they’re a robot. During the tour, participants will explore exhibits with animals native to Florida and learn about their impact on our ecosystems.
Mote’s Associate Vice President of Education, Aly Busse, shared that the organization was thrilled to be a part of the project. They want all children to have the opportunity to explore marine environments and learn about the animals that inhabit them through safe and comfortable experiences.
I can’t help but feel proud of Mote Aquarium and the WeGo Project for making a difference in the lives of hospitalized children. The first patient tours will take place this winter, and each participant will be accompanied by volunteer tour guides.
I hope this story has inspired you as much as it has inspired me. It’s a reminder that even small acts of kindness can make a big impact.
Media Maven, Don