PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 18, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Aflac, the leader in supplemental insurance sales at U.S. worksites, today delivered My Special Aflac Ducks to patients at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. 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. Aflac and Sproutel conducted 18 months of child-centered research with children, parents, and medical providers at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta to develop this innovative, award-winning duck.
Today's first delivery to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia occurs during national Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, an annual effort to raise awareness and funding for pediatric cancer research and family support. Since the program's launch, Aflac has delivered more than 5,000 My Special Aflac Ducks to 220 hospitals in 47 states, free of charge to patients and families.
"Today, we're one step closer to our goal to deliver a My Special Aflac Duck to each child facing cancer across the country," Aflac Chairman and CEO Dan Amos said. "Seeing the joy and comfort that this special robotic duck can bring to children and families fills us all with pride. As we recognize Childhood Cancer Awareness Month this September, our mission and dedication to this important cause is at the forefront of the minds of our employees and independent agents nationwide, who passionately support this cause."
To date, Aflac has invested more than $3 million for the research, design and delivery of My Special Aflac Duck across the U.S. 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, a fun scavenger hunt awaited the children and their parents, who found clues and visited various locations at the hospital, eventually leading them to the discovery of their very own My Special Aflac Duck.
"We are grateful to our partners at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia for making this day possible for the young children coping with cancer in this community," 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, and it's an honor to be a part of something so impactful."
To date, Aflac has hosted special delivery events for My Special Aflac Duck in eight markets (Atlanta; Buffalo, New York; Columbia, South Carolina; Houston; Nashville; New Orleans; Omaha; and Orange County, California). 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 above the age of three with cancer in the United States, free of charge.
In addition to My Special Aflac Duck, Sproutel has created a free companion app available for smartphones and tablets on the Apple App Store and Google Play. 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.
"To give children a new method to express emotions about cancer and cope with difficult procedures can help build self-efficacy, resiliency, and quality of life, and we're pleased to join Aflac in this program," said Lamia P. Barakat, PhD, director of Psychosocial Services and Behavioral Oncology Research Programs in the Cancer Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "My Special Aflac Duck is a wonderful way to engage children through play, in challenging and joyful times, and to help them successfully adapt to cancer treatment."
"For more than 20 years, Aflac has made helping children and families facing cancer a key component of our mission to be a responsible company that gives back to the community in meaningful ways," Aflac Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Frederick Crawford said. "We are honored to support these children in the Philadelphia community by bringing My Special Aflac Duck to this wonderful hospital and the more than 15,000 children diagnosed with cancer in America each year."
Since 1995, Aflac has contributed more than $136 million to the pediatric cancer cause, including more than $6 million donated each year 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 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.
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