First Look: Telepresence WeGo Robot makes visiting Mote Aquarium accessible for hospitalized children

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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!

ABOUT WEGO!

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.

Denise Blondo

[email protected]

Media Maven, Don

 

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Telepresence WeGo Robot makes visiting Mote Aquarium accessible for hospitalized children

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium has partnered with the WeGo Project to utilize a telepresence robot on private, guided tours throughout Mote Aquarium. The Double 3 robot is controllable by hospitalized children using a computer or iPad to drive the webcam allowing them the chance to see, hear, talk and move as if they are physically at the Aquarium. The purpose of the program is to ease anxiety and isolation that comes along with pediatric inpatient hospitalizations. WeGo Program Manager, Natalie Marrero, suggested Mote as the next new location for the project. Originally from Florida, Natalie is excited to expand into her hometown and remembers the joy kids felt at Mote Aquarium from her childhood. According to WeGo Project’s founder Galen Shi, the project allows “patients an escape from their hospital beds to just be children again.”

WeGo primarily connects patients from local hospitals, but they said that physical distance isn’t a problem. That’s the whole point of the robot, “kids get to go somewhere they wouldn’t normally be able to go,” said Shi. Through the WeGo Project, Mote Aquarium will partner in the mission that pushes the limits of what a child with chronic illness can stereotypically do.

With the ability to drive the robot anywhere in the tour space, children often enjoy just being in control of a robot. “They aren’t the center of attention because they’re the sick kid,” said Shi. “They’re the center of attention because they’re a robot.” During the tour, participants will be able to explore exhibits with animals native to Florida and discover the impacts they have on our ecosystems. “Mote was really excited to be a part of this project,” said Mote’s Associate Vice President of Education Aly Busse, “we want to give all children the opportunity to explore marine environments and learn about the animals that inhabit them through safe and comfortable experiences.”

The first tours will occur in the winter, each participant will be accompanied by volunteer tour guides.

About Mote: Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is an independent, nonprofit, 501(c)3 research institution founded in 1955. Mote began and flourished through the passion of a single researcher, Dr. Eugenie Clark, her partnership with the community and philanthropic support, first of the Vanderbilt family and later of the William R. Mote family.Today, Mote is based in Sarasota, Florida, with five campuses stretching from Sarasota to the Florida Keys. Mote has more than 20 world-class research programs studying oceans locally to internationally, with an emphasis on conservation and sustainable use of marine resources. Mote’s vision includes positively impacting public policy through science-based outreach and education. Showcasing the Lab’s research is Mote Aquarium, open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 365 days a year. Learn more at mote.org.Contact Us:Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, Fla., 34236. 941.388.4441
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