Imagine that you have been diagnosed with leukemia and you will be going through cancer treatment for the next year. Now imagine receiving this news as a 12-year-old child, and realizing that you will no longer be able to attend school with your friends and peers.

This is the exact situation that Niki Fassler, a young student with Down syndrome in Vienna, Austria, found himself in.

In 2012, Niki was diagnosed and treated for leukemia. Then in August of last year, he was diagnosed for the second time. During this round of treatment, Niki was unable to attend school due to the severity of his illness and potential risks associated with being present in a classroom.

Niki, however, wouldn’t let cancer stop him from continuing to learn and engage with is friends at school.

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Using Cisco collaboration technology, he is able to connect with his class at NMS Neubaugasse. He is now able to attend lessons virtually, which has had an incredibly positive influence on his mental and physical health.

According to Niki’s teacher, Martina Hrubesch, “When the students saw Niki for the first time, it was a very emotional moment. The children were crying tears of joy after seeing him again, and after seeing his joy over seeing them again.”

The technology is simple and secure, allowing Niki to call into his classroom by himself, speak and engage with classmates, and see the entire classroom with a panning camera.


Plus, Niki isn’t the only one who is benefiting from this collaborative technology. By learning alongside Niki virtually, his classmates have increased empathy for Niki’s situation, a new level of social competency, and an overall motivational boost to perform on a higher level.

Watch this inspiring video of Niki’s story to see how technology is enabling him to maintain normalcy with school and friends, giving him more energy and strength to fight his illness.


Cecile Willems

Director, Global Public Sector

Global Sales Organization