A 10-year-old schoolgirl with cerebral palsy is set to star in the latest episode of an animated series designed to encourage more girls to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
Ava Roberts, from Salford, stars as herself in a five-minute lesson explaining what The Cloud in a Tech We Can animation is, which is watched by thousands of primary school children across the UK United.
Her character was created by the team at production company Bold Content Video for Tech She Can, a charity committed to changing the ratio of women in tech.
“It was a new experience for me…I love that she looks like me and I love being able to choose her name and give her my name,” Ava said.
“I helped pick out Ava’s outfit and got to choose my favorite that the animators sent me.
“We had a screening in my class with popcorn and drinks! I liked it.”
The animation series explores different aspects of STEM with the aim of getting young children thinking and talking about technologies such as drones, robotics and AI.
Hannah Collins, the animation and post-production producer who created the character of Ava, said she worked closely with Ava and her mother, Lyndsey Bennett, to create a character “that represents Ava as well. precisely as possible”.
“Physically – her mannerisms and how she moves and talks,” Ms Collins explained.
“We were given video footage and photos of Ava in her wheelchair and asked about how she wanted to be shown.
“For example, Ava has a tube coming out of her nose, so we wanted to make sure Ava would be happy for us to feature it.
“It was very important to us to make sure she was comfortable with how she was portrayed.”
This is the first time a character with cerebral palsy has appeared in animations.
The script was written by the teams at Tech She Can and Bold Content, who gave dialogue Ava as a lab assistant to series regulars Katie and Tex the dog.
For the voiceover, the University of Salford in Manchester was asked if they had a recording studio available, but after learning about the project and Ava’s involvement, they offered the facility for free.
“Our Tech We Can animations are designed to encourage young children to be curious about the technology they encounter – giving them a simplified understanding of how it works,” said Becky Patel, Head of Early Childhood Education for Tech She Can. .
“We want kids as young as five to understand that people design and create the technology they use every day.”
Ms Collins added: ‘It’s really special for Ava to be involved in a project like this.
“We all want this series to be as inclusive as possible by creating characters from different cultures and with different abilities.
“It’s really important for kids to see someone they can connect with and feel represented by.
“Imagine what it will do for other young children with cerebral palsy to see someone who looks and talks like them.”
When she left school, Ava said she wanted to be a teacher and “use technology to support students like me.”