VR lets Reach for a Dream kids “travel” during Covid

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The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult on many people, but those that were struggling before we were all locked into our houses have understandably struggled far more. It fell to the Reach for a Dream foundation to try and comfort all those children who needed to deal with the stress and anxiety of the Coronavirus, above and beyond the life-threatening illnesses they faced every day.

While Reach for a Dream has a great deal of resources at its disposal, many of the usual procedures it followed to bring joy to desperate children couldn’t be carried out. It’s not like they could organise big parties with celebrities or take kids to see landmarks they’d always dreamed of seeing when the country was in lockdown. So instead of sitting and waiting for lockdown to end, the charity looked for alternate ways to spread happiness. One such solution was the magic of virtual reality.

“We realised that we had to find new ways of fulfilling dreams for our Dreamers, to continue making experiences that could brighten up their day possible,” said Natalie Lazaris, Business Head at Reach for a Dream.

Thus, Reach for a Dream began using VR headsets to give children experiences they’d otherwise never be able to have. The “VR dream days” have given kids the opportunity to explore Disney World or go swimming with dolphins amongst a range of other activities that no doubt bring a smile to someone who probably needs it. Hopefully none of those kids are desperate to experience life as a deadly assassin, but if one of them is, then Hitman 3 has them covered.

Reach for a Dream

Reach for a Dream, make a child beam

“Dedicated Dream Rooms in hospitals’ paediatric sections allow children to escape from their clinical environment, which, despite being a place of treatment and healing, is often associated with pain and illness. Our dream is to have one or two VR sets in every single Dream Room across the country, which children of all ages can use to enjoy a virtual getaway,” continued Lazaris.

Reach for a Dream currently possess seven VR headsets and is in the process of acquiring 17 additional units. The organisation is currently in the process of expanding its library of content to provide upwards of a hundred different immersive experiences.

“The new virtual reality platform has changed a child’s experience of their hospital admission. They now experience new adventures from the safety of their beds, which gives them something exciting to look forward to. The children’s excitement is tangible,” says Dr. Shaegan Irusen, Paediatric Nephrologist at the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital.

The initiative is also being conducted in partnership with Vuma, who also spoke to the nature of the project. “At Vuma, we believe that together, through partnerships like this, we can enable our youth to have a brighter future and make their dreams come true using technology,” said Lianne Williams, Head of Marketing at Vuma. “That’s why we believe so strongly in Reach for a Dream’s vision of fulfilling the dreams of vulnerable children and proudly support this amazing project. We look forward to fulfilling many more dreams together through these unique virtual experiences.”    

If you want to contribute to Reach for a Dream’s newest campaign, you can head on over here. The foundation is always looking for new volunteers, sponsors, and now content creators who can help expand their entire library.

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I completed a Masters Degree just so someone might take my opinions seriously one day. Also writes about video games over at Critical Hit.

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