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No Isolation for children with long-term illness

Norway's revolutionary start-up allowing children with long-term illness to participate in school and social activities via avatar launches in UK

Posted by Charley Rogers | August 02, 2017 | Technology

Having achieved success in Scandinavia, No Isolation, an Oslo-based start-up founded to reduce involuntary social solitude, is now launching in the UK. Its first product, a physical avatar named AV1, allows British children and young adults who are forced by illness to take extended time away from school, to maintain a presence in the classroom, communicate with friends, and socialise. This minimises loneliness, and reduces the short and long-term educational and developmental impacts of absence.

Designed in consultation with teachers and scientists at the University of Oslo and The Norwegian Cancer Society, since launching in 2016, AV1 units - lightweight and friendly-looking robots - have been used by more than 200 children in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands. With 35,000 children in the UK estimated to be suffering long-term illness, No Isolation offers a tech solution to parents, schools, or CSR-committed organisations eager to support children whose health conditions - whether life-threatening or temporarily debilitating - require them to remain in hospital or their own homes. In May 2017, the Norwegian Ministry of Education accredited No Isolation, confirming AV1 as a “valid option for remote learning”, and stating that “usage of the robot, as a supplement to traditional learning methods, can provide the student with an increased feeling of inclusion, compared to not using the robot”, encouraging parents and schools to invest in the technology. 

We have learnt that when children suffer from long-term illness, their corresponding isolation from friends makes it harder for them to recover and to come back to school when they feel better. We are also aware that developing speech and social skills is just as important as following the curriculum.

The need for No Isolation was identified by CEO and co-founder, Karen Dolva, when she met Anne Fi Troye - a mother who had lost her teenage daughter to cancer in 2005. In the years after the original diagnosis, both Anne Fi and her daughter Cornelia experienced a level of solitude that was “much worse than the diagnosis, the pain, and the treatment.” Currently, Anne Fi continues her efforts to improve the lives of children in the hospital, and it is this ethos that is also at the core of No Isolation. AV1 was created in this same spirit, and in consultation with Anne Fi.

Karen Dolva, co-founder and CEO of No Isolation, comments:

“After establishing No Isolation and AV1 in Scandinavia and the Netherlands, we’re excited for the company to launch in the UK.

"We have learnt that when children suffer from long-term illness, their corresponding isolation from friends makes it harder for them to recover and to come back to school when they feel better. We are also aware that developing speech and social skills is just as important as following the curriculum. When they are not a part of the social scene, children miss out on important learning through play and interaction.

“At No Isolation, the purpose of our technology is to help people alleviate the feeling of loneliness. We want to develop tools for the groups that need more than generic solutions. AV1 helps children with long-term illness to stay in touch with their friends, keep up with their education, and secure that crucial link to everyday life." 

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