In August 2022, I met Shevon, a Son of a Saint mentee. Son of a Saint (SOAS) is a non-profit organization that mentors fatherless boys in New Orleans. Shevon and I built a 4-inch catapult that launched a gumball six feet. When Shevon first launched his catapult, his eyes lit up. He could not believe it. Within minutes, he modified the catapult to propel the ball even further. Shevon and I then mounted his catapult onto a robot, enabling the contraption to autonomously move and shoot like a basketball player. In October 2022, I led an in-school robotics program at a Title I school in New Orleans East. As I stood in front of a class of 5th graders, someone to my left shouted, “I remember you! I remember you!... You helped me build the catapult.” It was Shevon. I smiled. He remembered more than the catapult, though. He explained what he learned about robots to his peers and, impressively, coded his group’s robot to pick up a pencil. His classmates were amazed, many begging to stay behind after class to upgrade their robots. Working with Shevon, I began to reflect on why I started RoboRecovery. I realized that I did not start it for robots. I started it so that students like Shevon can realize themselves how capable they are—rather than me simply telling them so. I started it because just a plastic robot and mentorship can change a child’s life—just as it did for me years ago.
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