‘It is a game changer’: Robot helps 4th grader with cerebral palsy get the classroom experience 

SPOKANE, Wash.–  A device called the VGo is a game-changer for a fourth-grader at Madison Elementary.

Madelyn Schibel, who has cerebral palsy, now has the ability to appear on-screen to roll through the hallways and interact with the classroom.

The Wishing Star Foundation gave the robot to Madelyn, and she’s the first Wish Kid to use the device.

Madelyn’s mom Jami Schibel said was concerned about her going back to school because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That meant remote learning for Madelyn.  The VGO makes it so she isn’t missing out on the classroom experience.

“It’s another line of independence for her, and being able to be included in things where she may not have been able to otherwise,” Jami said.

Madison Elementary teacher Joanna Constantine connected Madelyn’s mom with the Wishing Star Foundation after seeing the VGo at an event. Constantine was a Wish Kid herself.

“She was doing the work and turning it in. And, she’s amazingly smart so she was doing awesome that way. But we weren’t connected with her, and she wasn’t connecting with us, “Constantine said.

The Wishing Star Foundation grants wishes to kids between 3 and 21 who are terminal or battling a life-threatening illness.

“I got to believe that it is a game changer. When kids are in the hospital, and kids are homebound, and they can’t be with their peers and their teachers. There’s a mental depression that could set in,” Wishing Star Foundation director of community partners & development Cindy Guthrie-Tripp said.

Madelyn controls the robot from her laptop at home and she gets a bot buddy who guides her around.

“This really opened a new door for us, and many other families to come that might find themselves in the same situation,” Jami said.

“It’s fancy, and fun. The kids absolutely love it, and love having Madelyn here. Madelyn’s smiling face is wonderful addition every day–she’s always smiling,” Constantine said.

Madelyn said her favorite part about having the robot is seeing all of her friends once again.

The Wishing Star Foundation has four more VGos they want to give away. In order to qualify for the program, you must be a Wish Kid. Click here for more information.