Starlight Xperience Transforms Hospital Stays for Seriously Ill Children through the Magic of Virtual Reality

Seven-year-old Grady using Starlight Xperience at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.

In reality, 7-year-old Grady is wheelchair-bound, receiving weeks of treatment and physical therapy at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in Minnesota. In virtual reality, he explores the streets of London, pointing at the double-decker bus that rolls by, seemingly only a few feet away.

“I would sit on the very top level of a double-decker bus,” Grady says. “It feels like you’re not in the hospital.”

His giggles fill the playroom as his smile grows larger and he continues to explore.

“Anytime your kid doesn’t want to leave the hospital, you know the facility is doing something right. He loved Gillette and he loved Starlight Xperience,” Cary, Grady’s mom says. “He still talks about virtual reality now to this day.”

Grady has been in the hospital for six weeks recovering from spine surgery and he’s one of the first kids to ever try Starlight’s groundbreaking new program, Starlight Xperience. Starlight Xperience is built for the Lenovo Mirage Solo with Daydream, Google’s VR platform. This innovative virtual reality headset was made to meet strict infection safety protocols for use in hospital settings and features dynamic, age-appropriate content geared toward entertainment and distraction.

So Much More than Video Games

There are great games featured on Starlight Xperience such as Lola and the Giant, popular apps such as Ocean Rift and Hello Mars, and meditation exercises and therapeutic games such as Relax VR that will allow the patient to escape into beautiful environments. The best part is, Starlight Xperience is accessible for every child! For kids with limited movements to their arms or legs, or if they’re lying down in a hospital bed, a child can control the virtual environment by simple movements of the head.

And there’s so much more to experience… kids can learn about different cultures and places in the world thanks to Google Expeditions. With just a click of a button, hospitalized kids can walk along the Great Wall of China or blast into outer space and visit the International Space Station.

Starlight Xperience Provides Fun for the Whole Family

When a child is hospitalized, it affects everyone in the family.

“I worked with a 16-year-old female and her family prior to her hip surgery. She was a little nervous…so then I offered Starlight Xperience and soon the patient’s sister was laughing bedside,” said Megan Engelke, Certified Child Life Specialist, at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. “Everyone seemed more relaxed and in a lighter mood before surgery.”

All of us at Starlight are so excited to get Starlight Xperience into the hands of hospitalized kids all across the country. Thanks to our sponsors, including Niagara Cares, and donations from people like you, we are on track to deliver up to 1,000 Starlight Xperience kits to the more than 800 hospital partners and healthcare facilities by the end of 2018.

Donate Now

Your donation lets hospitalized kids visit far-away wonders like the Taj Mahal, swim with dolphins in the Pacific Ocean, or even touch down on the surface of Mars — all through the magic of Starlight Xperience virtual reality!

About the Author

Tara Millspaugh

Digital Media Manager

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