Six-year-old Arianah Martin (Ari for short) can’t wait for Thursday.
“Of course I’m excited for school,” she said with a who-wouldn’t-be cheer of glee.
Ari Martin is going to be in first grade at Fair Park Elementary School in West Bend. She completed kindergarten last year and said her favorite class is recess. Tomorrow is significant because she gets a computer. “It’s a robot,” she said with directness. “I had an iPad last year and this is a robot which is like a big computer with wheels.”
Double is a telepresence robot that works with an iPad. Martin, who suffers spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic disease that affects voluntary muscle movement, will be using the robot to help her in class.
“I’m going to call it Roboticca,” said Martin. “I think it’s going to be a she and I’m going to dress it like a girl.”
By the way the fashion this semester for robots, according to Martin, is green, black and some purple.
Martin’s parents, Cassandra and Keith, said the robot will help Ari maintain more peer-to-peer contact during the school year.
“I can’t tell you how much this means to us,” Cassandra Martin said. “When I heard about it I started crying. It’s so touching there are so many people that think about my daughter that I don’t even know about.”
The muscle disease means Ari Martin is very weak. She normally starts the school year in September and goes three days a week. “In October we pull her out because of cold and flu season,” Cassandra Martin said. “If she gets a cold it’s a week or two hospital stay.”
With the robot, Ari Martin will be able to operate it from home and she’ll be able to do modified activities with her class.
“It’s amazing she’s going to be able to be a normal kid,” said Cassandra Martin.
During Thursday’s school visit Ari Martin will learn to ‘walk’ the hallways at Fair Park.
The West Bend School District is the only district in the state with a telepresence robot.
The robot has been featured on TV shows like ‘Big Bang Theory’ and ‘Modern Family.’
The West Bend School District said Double will allow Ari to talk with peers during snack and lunch, go on the playground with her friends, read books with teachers, and participate in art and music classes.