Hicksville's J Birds fly high by snagging top prize at the Altice Innovator Awards

Hicksville High School's robotics team the J Birds are flying high Monday for winning the Best Business Model at the Altice Innovator Awards.
Jesse Kohli says because of the pandemic, he and his teammates saw how isolated seniors and grandparents were, so they came up with the idea to use live action and virtual reality to help them connect with the outside world.
"That is the first thing that came to all of us. What about the seniors?" says Kohli. "It gets lonely for them sometimes, especially during COVID."
So they took on the Altice Innovators Challenge of developing an idea that would improve the physical and mental health of members of their community. They came up with what they call Aureum, which is Latin for golden.
Kohli says they really wanted to make an impact on the community and do something that would benefit all generations.
The Aureum lets a grandparent virtually connect with a grandchild on a hike, a bike trip, or any adventure.
"And the senior gets to put the VR headset on, and they get to watch and be with the teenager while they are doing it," says Kohli.
Ekam Singh says it helps the seniors with mental and physical health and it's absolutely amazing.
Coach Catherine Temps says she is proud of the team.
"It's just about helping others, that is our number one priority since we started," says Temps.
The team was given a $2,500 grant from Altice that will go toward next year's competition fees.
Altice is a proud sponsor of First Robotics, which promotes STEM and business skill development. The Altice Innovators Award has been held the past two years, giving teams recognition for their innovative work and providing an opportunity to earn additional funding for their teams.
Altice is the parent company of News 12.