Stop the Shadows news

Metaverse combats loneliness in disabled community

Avatars in Thrive Pavilion

Disabled seniors, who feel isolated from society, are turning to the Metaverse to form new friendships and explore territories even though they may be bedridden or have limited mobility.

Thrive Pavilion” is a virtual experience created by Robert Signore specifically aimed at the older generation so they can meet, learn and play in a VR universe.

Once in the virtual world, visitors can join others for a round of golf, show their skills on the tennis court or, if they fancy something a little less energetic, sit down and play card games.

They can also sign up for learning experiences from experts on various health topics such as diabetes to gain knowledge about a wide range of conditions which may affect them in their later life.

After signing up for “Thrive Pavilion” users can choose their own avatar before having the opportunity to interact with others.

WACVeteran, known as Kari IRL, was a veteran of the “Women’s Army Corp” which was active from 1942 to 1978, 

She told Wral News: "Having this is amazing because I’m here now (being seen in the VR world). I may not be able to walk in real life but I sure can hear."

Signore created the experience to help combat loneliness disabled and elderly people can go through.

"People that they like to hang out with and socialize either don’t live close by anymore or have even passed away," he said.

One person Kari may meet in “Thrive Pavilion” is Tony Ferring, who in real life has physical disabilities but in the virtual world it’s possible for him to play games and even float around.

At first sight images of the new world seem cartoony, but put on a VR headset and you will be immersed in the virtual setting.

"Since it’s using both eyes, it gives you a 3-dimensional view of what you’re looking at,” Signore explained.

Last month visitors of “Thrive Pavillon” participated in events such as a game of “Hollywood Squares” and "Meet Pro Skateboarder Pete Kelly."

They may be on the other side of the world, but the friendship users form under their headsets are real. For example Kai wished a retired news photographer, known as Photog, “Happy Birthday!” 

The birthday boy replied: "I never thought I’d live to be three quarters of a century old."

Signore has achieved what he set out to do, to provide a space for people cut off from society but brought together in a virtual environment.

"You hear a lot of laughter and we know that laughter is the best, you know, certainly the best medicine,” he said, whilst floating around a golf course!

[ To support ABLE2UK campaign highlighting loneliness in the disabled community please use #StopTheShadows on social media ]

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