A Robot Playmate for Children With Newly Diagnosed Chronic Illnesses

A Robot Playmate for Children With Newly Diagnosed Chronic Illnesses

Sproutel, co-founded by Aaron Horowitz, creates products that promote behavior change and provide emotional support for children.
Two children holding My Special Aflac Duck, a social robot for children with cancer and sickle cell disease that was designed by the founders of Sproutel, a health tech company in Providence, R.I.SPROUTEL
Photo: Two children holding My Special Aflac Duck, a social robot for children with cancer and sickle cell disease that was designed by the founders of Sproutel, a health tech company in Providence, R.I.SPROUTEL

Photo: Two children holding My Special Aflac Duck, a social robot for children with cancer and sickle cell disease that was designed by the founders of Sproutel, a health tech company in Providence, R.I.SPROUTEL

Tuesday, July 26, 2022 - 9:00am

CAMPAIGN: Duckprints Done Right

CONTENT: Article

By Alexa Gagosz

For Aaron Horowitz, growing up wasn’t exactly easy. He was diagnosed with Human Growth Hormone Deficiency, which means his body could not produce the hormone he needed to grow.

About a decade ago, Horowitz observed how children with type 1 diabetes were caring for their fluffy stuffed animals as if they also had the same illness.

That’s when he co-founded Sproutel, a health tech and research company that designs toys to help children with newly diagnosed chronic illnesses understand and cope through play.

What about “My Special Aflac Duck, which was named one of TIME Magazine’s Best Inventions in 2019?”

We teamed up with Aflac (the insurance company) to develop My Special Aflac Duck, which is a social robot for children with cancer and sickle cell disease. My Special Aflac Duck allows children to engage in medical play, to care for their ducks in the same way they are cared for throughout their chemotherapy. A key feature is a series of feeling cards that allow children to communicate their feelings to their families and doctors.

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