Starlight Virtual Reality Transforms Hospital Stays for Seriously Ill Children

In reality, 7-year-old Grady is wheelchair-bound, who received weeks of treatment and physical therapy at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in Minnesota. In virtual reality, he explored 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 filled the playroom as his smile grew larger and he continued 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 VR,” Cary, Grady’s mom said. “He still talks about virtual reality now to this day.”

Grady had been in the hospital for six weeks recovering from spine surgery and he was one of the first kids to ever try Starlight’s groundbreaking new program, Starlight Virtual Reality. Starlight VR 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 VR 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 VR 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 VR 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 VR 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.”

Since 2018, over 1,300 Starlight Virtual Reality headsets have transformed the hospital experience for 18,000 children at 300+ healthcare facilities in 48 states, thanks to the generous support of our donors.

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 Virtual Reality!

Our VR program has served over 18,000 seriously ill kids

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