Awabot, partner of Rudy’s Kid Foundation, connects hospitalized children with telepresence robots during two games and a practice of the Minnesota Timberwolves NBA team in the United States.
A Telepresence Robot on the NBA Court
The Beam® telepresence system deployed by the French company Awabot, used to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities, is already well known in the world of soccer. FC Barcelona, Olympique Lyonnais, Paris Saint Germain, and the French national team each have a robot in their colors, which allows young hospitalized fans to experience matches and training sessions and, above all, to meet their favorite players. Recently, the telepresence robot of the French Football Federation was made available to two children, one Argentinean, the other French, invited by the Presidency of the Republic in Doha, to live the World Cup Final alongside the French delegation at the Lusail Stadium.
This time, the telepresence device deployed by Awabot was adorned with the logos of the Minnesota Timberwolves team and Rudy’s Kid Foundation, a foundation created by the French NBA player Rudy Gobert, who plays for the American Timberwolves team. Several children have benefited from this device to go backstage of:
- the Minnesota Timberwolves / Sacramento Kings game on January 30, 2023,
- then the Timberwolves practice on January 31,
- then the Minnesota Timberwolves / Golden State game on February 1 at the Target Center in Minneapolis.
Each child was able to interact with the staff and players of the team on the field, in the locker room during games, and in the weight room during training.
On their side, the children were connected from different hospitals:
- The Institute of Hematology and Pediatric Oncology in Lyon ;
- Children’s Minnesota Hospital in Minneapolis, USA;
- the Saint-Paul Clinic and the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Martinique, both located in Fort de France, on the island of Martinique.
“The fact that he’s playing in the NBA shows that just because you are from the Caribbean doesn’t mean you can’t accomplish your dreams.”
Among these children, 18-year-old Lij Crafton uses this same device every week as part of the TED-i program run by the French Ministry of Education and Youth, during her dialysis sessions at the Saint Paul clinic.
”"Even if I'm not physically there in high school, it allows me to not feel too excluded from the class because in the end I'm still there. So I can feel the atmosphere, I can see my classmates, I can hear them. Two years ago, it was much more complicated, but since this device is up and running, I feel much more involved in class life than before."
In coordination with the academy of Martinique, he met Rudy Gobert and his fellow teammates during a training session in the weight room of the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis.
Connected to the telepresence robot from the care unit, he piloted the robot through a computer equipped with the Beam® software and followed the NBA star through his training:
”"It was amazing. He told me how he got the inspiration to play basketball. We got to tour the practice rooms, his weight room. We got to meet other players on his team. It was an incredible experience because it's not every day that you get to meet a basketball player. It's not every day you can do it with this device."
he exclaimed, still speaking to RCI. He also stressed the beneficial aspect of this tool for his mental health:
”"The fact that he's playing in the NBA shows that just because you're West Indian doesn't mean you can't accomplish your dreams [...] It's that kind of thing that gives me strength and shows me at the end of the day it's not because I'm on dialysis that I can't accomplish what I want to in life. So, it made me happy and it lifted my spirits."
Proof that the telepresence device deployed by Awabot is not just a simple videoconferencing device, but a fully-fledged human experience that promotes professional and personal fulfillment for people with disabilities.
Lij, Milan and Marques, the three young fans spent extraordinary moments with Rudy Gobert and his Minnesota Timberwolves teammates. A first experience of telepresence on the American basketball courts that was more than successful and that bodes well for the future. Awabot would also like to warmly thank Rudy Gobert, the Rudy’s Kids Foundation and all the Timberwolves team for their welcome and their kindness.