Award-winning robotic duck flocks to the Big Easy, delivering joy during national awareness month for childhood cancer and sickle cell


50 of their award-winning My Special Aflac Ducks were given to kids with cancer and sickle cell disease at Children’s Hospital New Orleans by Aflac, the top provider of supplemental health insurance products in the U.S. and a proud supporter of families dealing with childhood cancer and blood disorders like sickle cell. The duck delivery event took place during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and National Sickle Cell Awareness Month, two campaigns that Aflac supports each year to raise money and awareness for.

“The My Special Aflac Duck program has done an incredible job providing comfort to children with cancer and to kids with sickle cell disease during a time they need it the most”, “At Aflac’s core, we are committed to helping children and their families impacted by these diseases and are grateful to work with our partners in Louisiana to provide this resource free of charge, helping make a difference in the lives of these families.”

Aflac Louisiana Market Director Eddie Martina II

During a child’s journey with cancer or sickle cell disease, the award-winning social robot employs medical play, lifelike movement, and emotion mimicry to engage and comfort them. It was created after more than 18 months of research including kids, families, and medical professionals to aid kids in adjusting to their treatments. My Special Aflac Duck has a number of features, including an interactive mobile app that lets kids virtually feed and bathe their duck, calming heartbeat and breathing vibrations, customizable soundscapes that offer calming visuals and sounds, smart sensors that enable touch and awareness of light and sound. The duck also comes with seven emotional emoji discs that, when tapped to a sensor on the duck’s chest, cause My Special Aflac Duck to simulate each emotion. This helps kids express themselves.

“Care plans for children with cancer or blood disorders, such as sickle cell disease, can involve frequent procedures, clinic or infusion visits, and hospitalizations, which can lead to stress and anxiety for these patients”, “We are grateful for the potential positive impact that this innovative resource offers for our children with sickle cell.”

Dr. Dana LeBlanc, hematologist/oncologist at Children’s Hospital New Orleans’ Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders

As part of its 27-year, $161+ million commitment to childhood cancer and blood disorders, including sickle cell disease, Aflac and Sproutel released My Special Aflac Duck in 2018. Since the program’s start, Aflac has given away more than 17,000 My Special Aflac Ducks to patients aged 3 and older in 450 hospitals and disease-focused organisations.

“We are grateful to Aflac for not only tailoring My Special Aflac Duck to help meet the specific needs of sickle cell patients, but also delivering them to our clients in south Louisiana”, “Sickle cell patients are often forgotten and not given the same resources as other chronic diseases. Knowing our patients suffer just as much and seeing Aflac’s support for the sickle cell community firsthand means everything. Going to the hospital for a pain crisis or even for their monthly visit can be a lot for children. Having their own duck during these tough times will be comforting for the families.”

Erin Fullbright, executive director of Sickle Cell Association of South Louisiana

Before starting an exciting scavenger adventure to meet their very own robotic companion, recipients at the Louisiana event took part in a My Special Aflac Duck demonstration. After the hunt, the patients and their family engaged in various crafts, colouring, making a beaded necklace for their duck, and other activities to honour their new relationship.

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