School Cabling Helps SMA Victim Marco to Study

School Cabling Helps SMA Victim Marco to Study


A good news about using ICT at school, also with a low technical profile, for helping pupils with diseases

Eight-year-old suffers from spinal muscular atrophy. Webcam link to classroom

MILAN – Marco takes a spaceship to school, in the sense that his hands, eyes and words soar through virtual space to the classroom. Marco’s schoolmates in his third-year primary class can turn round and see his smile via the webcam that sits on his desk in the back row. Eight-year-old Marco has SMA, spinal muscular atrophy, a disease that is gradually stopping muscles from functioning, forcing him into immobility and to see the world through a digital image brought to him by fibre optic cable

Until last September, SMA meant that Marco attended a maximum of three days of the school a year: only the first and the last two. It gave him an opportunity to see his classmates at the Italo Calvino junior school in Via Frigia, Milan, but was not enough to get to know them or make friends. Today, Marco has beaten his incurable disease. Computers, webcams and fibre optic cabling enable him to take his place in class with the other students, who are now his friends. Credit goes to his parents, who doggedly studied, tried out and invented solutions to enable their son to be Marco, the student in the back row of the class whose bright brown eyes now gaze out from a king-sized monitor. The home spaceship, the shelving unit full of cables and lights where Marco’s screen and keyboard are mounted, is combined gift from many different people, including his mum Laura, the principal of the Calvino, Aldo Acquati, the engineers who installed the cables at home and at school, the support teacher who provides home schooling and the school staff who have believed in the project unwaveringly. “It can be done. After three years of trying, Marco can now attend lessons again”, says his mother. “He does half a day of distance school and then has treatment to help him to breathe”. Despite being confined to a wheelchair, and even though his muscles have lost all their strength, Marco can manipulate the joystick that moves the webcams in the classroom. [the complete article]


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