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Madison Elementary student uses robot to go to classes

Madelyn Schibel is seeing her classroom through a new set of lenses, thanks to her teacher and a local non-profit.

SPOKANE, Wash. —

The transition for kids going back into classrooms wasn’t easy for everyone. 

Madelyn Schibel is a fourth grader at Madison Elementary School in Spokane. She has cerebral palsy, so she was still at home doing her schoolwork when her classmates were back at their desks. Now, she’s back in class and able to see all her friends through her Wishing Star robot. 

The Wishing Star Foundation is a local nonprofit organization that grants wishes to children with terminal or life-limiting illnesses. Madelyn has been using the robot for 10 days. This is the foundation’s first use of their robots. 

“We have four more robots we want to get out into the community and out to other Wishing Star kids who need them,” Cindy Guthrie Tripp, Wishing Star Foundation community director said. 

Sometimes Madelyn will run into Wi-fi connection issues or a snag in the process, but with the help of her classmates, she’s able to roll around the classroom. According to her teacher, her friends have been very welcoming to the new look of their classmate. 

“They all want to be her bot buddy,” Joanna Constantine said. “They’re all so helpful in making sure she can move and see and participate.” 

Constantine was the one to introduce Madelyn to the Wishing Star Foundation. 

“My daughter is a Wishing Star kid,” Constantine said. “I saw the robot at a Wishing Star event and thought this might be the way to get Madelyn back to school.”

Madelyn's new robot is making Madison elementary school leaders rethink how accessible their building is.

"Our building is a bit older and doesn't have wi-fi in the hallways," Principle Heather Holter said. "We have to get a dolly and roll her through the hallways. Her robot is making us think outside the box when it comes to future changes we want to see for our school."

Thanks to her teacher and the Wishing Star Foundation, Madelyn is able to stay safe at home and stay engaged in all the fourth grade fun.


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