Homebound North Texas Girl Battling Illness Uses “Reggie Robot” to Remain in School

A homebound North Texas girl who is battling an incurable illness has another reason to smile.

Technology is allowing her to stay in school and make it look almost as if she’s seated in class every day.

“Makes me just very very happy,” said Meredith Salazar.

The 9-year-old couldn’t wait to get back to class.

She’s been away since December.

“I just miss it,” she said.

The 4th grader spent Monday on a laptop in her bedroom.

Since last week, she has been able to participate in all of her classes at Cedar Hill Collegiate Prep Elementary School via video conference.

“Now that I’m starting to do this it makes me feel much better,” said Salazar.

Three miles away her classmates and teachers can see her too, thanks to Reggie the robot.

The technology is on loan to the school in Cedar Hill from Region 10.

Region 10 is one of 20 Texas organizations that provides innovative services to public and private schools.

There are 16 homebound students in North Texas who are currently using the Reggie Robot video conferencing technology due to illness, according to representatives with the organization.

In Meredith’s case, she fell ill a few months ago and ended up in the hospital.

Her parents then received the devastating diagnosis: their daughter has several forms of Lupus.

It is a systemic autoimmune disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Meredith is now undergoing seven months of chemotherapy.

Her doctor ordered her to be homebound in order to help protect her immune system from illnesses such as the flu.

“It made me feel really surprised that I’m going to have to go through this for my life,” she said. “I’m like: I’ll be ok. I can do it.”

Her mother, Brittany, has noticed an improvement in her daughter’s spirits since she was able to return to class.

“No mother wants to see their child go through anything like this,” said Salazar. “Having her being able to be one of the ones that is chosen to use this technology is awesome. We’re extremely grateful.”

At the end of the school day, Meredith’s science teacher instructed Meredith to maneuver the robot to the docking station in class using her keyboard.

The entire class then bid their classmate farewell: “Bye Meredith!”

Meredith will be one of five people and the only child to be profiled by the Lupus Research Alliance in May as part of Lupus Awareness Month.

The goal is for the girl to be able to return to class even on a half-day basis in the coming months.

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