Patients receive robotic duck designed to help them cope with cancer
- Aflac brings My Special Aflac Ducks to pediatric patients at Roswell Park
- Social robot uses medical play, lifelike movement and emotions
- My Special Aflac Duck brings comfort and joy as children go through cancer care
BUFFALO, N.Y. — This summer, Aflac, the leader in voluntary insurance sales at U.S. worksites, is bringing My Special Aflac Ducks to Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. My Special Aflac Duck, designed by Sproutel, is a social robot that uses medical play, lifelike movement and emotions to engage and help comfort kids during their cancer care. Today’s first-ever delivery to Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center follows more than 18 months of child-centered research conducted with children, parents and medical providers at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
“We’re focused on bringing My Special Aflac Duck to more and more children across the country. Today’s delivery was truly a special day to see the comfort and happiness the Aflac Duck can provide in this community,” Aflac Chairman and CEO Dan Amos said. “Delivering My Special Aflac Duck to each child with cancer has been our mission since this program started last year, and we are grateful to Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center for bringing us one step closer to reaching that goal."
At today’s delivery event, attendees were treated to a demonstration, highlighting how My Special Aflac Duck can help bring comfort and joy to children as they go through their cancer care. After the demonstration, children and their parents went on a fun scavenger hunt, finding clues and visiting various locations at the hospital, eventually leading them to the discovery of their very own My Special Aflac Duck.
“We are thrilled to introduce My Special Aflac Duck to the children receiving cancer treatment at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center,” The Aflac Foundation, Inc. President Kathelen Amos said. “The Aflac Duck has become a tangible, innovative companion for children as they go through their cancer journey. We are making an impact on such an important cause and we couldn’t be prouder.”
“My Special Aflac Duck can help our youngest patients to get through some of their toughest days,” President and CEO of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center Dr. Candace Johnson said. “These cuddly companions bring comfort and connection while helping kids understand their treatments a little better, and I want to thank everyone at Aflac for their generosity and thoughtfulness in giving kids at Roswell Park and the Courage of Carly Fund a fuzzy friend to hug as they go through treatments.”
Congressman Brian Higgins, Co-Chair of the House of Representatives Cancer Caucus, said, “We are pleased to join in welcoming the My Special Aflac Duck to Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. This exciting robotic duck helps provide comfort and creative communication opportunities that can help children at Roswell Park and across the country cope with cancer.”
To date, Aflac has hosted special delivery events for My Special Aflac Duck in seven markets (Atlanta; Houston; Nashville; New Orleans; Omaha; Columbia, South Carolina and Orange County, California) and has distributed ducks to children in 47 states. Aflac will continue to expand its My Special Aflac Duck campaign to hospitals across the country, providing a My Special Aflac Duck to any child diagnosed with cancer in the United States, ages three and above, free of charge. To date, Aflac has invested more than $3 million for the research, design and delivery of My Special Aflac Duck across the nation. Healthcare professionals interested in obtaining My Special Aflac Ducks for pediatric cancer patients should go to AflacChildhoodCancer.org to complete the simple registration process and begin placing orders.
In addition to My Special Aflac Duck, Sproutel has created a companion app available on the Apple App Store and Google Play. The app can be downloaded on smartphones and tablets free of charge. Additional features of My Special Aflac Duck include:
- Emotional expression: Seven RFID-enabled feeling cards help children communicate; the duck acts out a given feeling when that feeling card is tapped to its chest.
- Medical and nurturing play: A chemotherapy port allows children to mirror their care experiences via play, giving them a sense of control during the process. The duck’s no-cost companion app allows users to “bathe” it, “feed” it and give it “medicine” via augmented reality.
- Music, singing and nuzzling: The duck sings when music is played. Customizable sounds include gentle waves, wind and a farm.
- Breathing and heartbeat: The duck produces a naturalistic heartbeat and deep breathing, which caregivers can incorporate into calming routines and exercises.
- Batteries and accessories: Provided so it is ready to use out of the box.
- Convenience: A removable skin, which can be washed to adhere to hospital hygiene standards.
“It’s an honor to be a part of something so special and impactful,” Aflac Senior Vice President, Chief ESG and Communications Officer Catherine Hernandez-Blades said. “For more than two decades, Aflac has been dedicating time and resources to helping children and families cope with childhood cancer. My Special Aflac Duck can provide countless hours of support and comfort to the children at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and we are grateful to our partners there for helping us advance our mission.”
Since 1995, Aflac has contributed more than $136 million to the pediatric cancer cause, including more than $500,000 donated each month by 17,000 independent agents licensed to sell Aflac products. The funds are committed directly from their monthly commission checks. To see My Special Aflac Duck in action and to learn more about this important cause, please visit AflacChildhoodCancer.org.
About Roswell Park
Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is a community united by the drive to eliminate cancer’s grip on humanity by unlocking its secrets through personalized approaches and unleashing the healing power of hope. Founded by Dr. Roswell Park in 1898, it is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in Upstate New York. Learn more at www.roswellpark.org, or contact us at 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or ASKRoswell@RoswellPark.org.
About Aflac Incorporated
Aflac Incorporated (NYSE: AFL) is a Fortune 500 company helping provide protection to more than 50 million people through its subsidiaries in Japan and the U.S., where it is a leading supplemental insurer, by paying cash fast when policyholders get sick or injured. For more than six decades, insurance policies of Aflac Incorporated's subsidiaries have given policyholders the opportunity to focus on recovery, not financial stress. Aflac Life Insurance Japan is the leading provider of medical and cancer insurance in Japan, where it insures 1 in 4 households. Through its trailblazing One Day PaySM initiative in the United States, for eligible claims, Aflac can process, approve and electronically send funds to claimants for quick access to cash in just one business day. For 13 consecutive years, Aflac has been recognized by Ethisphere as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies. In 2018, Fortune magazine recognized Aflac as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work for in America for the 20th consecutive year, and in 2019, Fortune included Aflac on its list of World's Most Admired Companies for the 18th time. To find out more about One Day PaySM and learn how to get help with expenses health insurance doesn't cover, get to know us at aflac.com. Aflac herein means American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus and American Family Life Assurance Company of New York. WWHQ | 1932 Wynnton Road | Columbus, GA 31999.