Starlight Children's Foundation, the Walt Disney Company, and Google Unveil New VR Program for Children

Starlight Children's Foundation, the Walt Disney Company, and Google Unveil New VR Program for Children

Starlight Children's Foundation, an organization whose mission is to create moments of joy and comfort for hospitalized kids and their families, unveiled today its newest initiative, Starlight XperienceTM virtual reality, a groundbreaking new technology program that offers millions of seriously ill children a fun and exciting way to explore the world and BEYOND through the magic of VR.

Built for the Lenovo Mirage Solo with Daydream, Starlight Xperience features a state-of-the-art and hospital-ready headset that comes preloaded with age-appropriate and dynamic content geared toward entertainment and distraction for hospitalized kids, which has been specifically modified to meet strict infection safety protocols for use in hospital settings. Pre-loaded content includes educational field trips to exotic locations through Google Expeditions and Street View, fun interactive stories like Star Wars: Droid Repair Bay by ILMxLAB, and Lola and the Giant, popular apps such as Ocean Rift and Hello Mars, and meditation exercises and therapeutic games such as Relax VR, which allows the patient to escape into beautiful environments.

Starlight Xperience was created in collaboration with Founding Sponsor, Star Wars: Force for Change, the charitable initiative from Lucasfilm and The Walt Disney Company that harnesses the power of Star Wars to empower and improve the lives of children around the world. Through grant funding provided by The Walt Disney Company and Niagara Cares - the philanthropic arm of Niagara Bottling - as well as charitable donations from grassroots donors, Starlight Xperience will be provided at no cost to Starlight's network of more than 800 children's hospitals and other health care facilities across the US.

"We believe Starlight Xperience has the potential to transform the hospital experience for millions of seriously ill children and their families," said Chris Helfrich, CEO of Starlight Children's Foundation. "We're thrilled to stand beside The Walt Disney Company, Google, Lenovo and Niagara Cares in unveiling this exciting new program, which is the latest evolution in our 35-year history of bringing innovative entertainment technologies to hospitalized kids."

"Providing these unique entertainment experiences reflects our commitment to bring comfort during what can be difficult times for kids and families. This is part of our Disney Team of Heroes initiative, which includes a $100 million commitment to children's hospitals," said Elissa Margolis, senior vice president, Enterprise Social Responsibility for The Walt Disney Company. "The collaboration with Google and Lenovo is the perfect blend of technology and content that we'll be able to deliver to kids during their hospital stay."

"Our goal has always been to create virtual reality experiences that are accessible, useful, and relevant to as many people as possible," said Amit Singh, VP of Business & Operations for AR & VR at Google. "Starlight Xperience is a shining example of that goal coming to life in a really great way. We're thrilled to be able to support Starlight in bringing transporting VR experiences to hospitalized children across the country."

"We are thrilled to be working with Starlight and Google to bring technology to hospitalized children in their time of need. Helping to provide a solution for the children and their families allows us to truly make a difference for the better," said Gunjan Shah, general manager for NORTH AMERICA Smart Devices at Lenovo.

Starlight Xperience was developed in part through a series of grants provided by Starlight to the CHARIOT program (short for Childhood Anxiety Reduction through Innovation and Technology) at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford. CHARIOT implements new technologies in the hospital that are nontraditional yet familiar to children to engage and distract them during stressful or painful procedures, keeping clinical usage in mind and improving upon the typical hospital experience. This past summer, Starlight Xperience was soft launched and tested at five children's hospitals: Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford, Children's Hospital Colorado, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, Minn., and Texas Children's Hospital.

"At Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, virtual reality has been a fantastic addition for our patients," said Chantel Barney, Ph.D., a clinical scientist who leads Gillette's VR program. "In some instances, we've been able to curb the anxiety and fears our kids typically experience during procedures such as blood draws, transfusions, wound cleanings, casting and more. It's a wonderful distraction for kids and parents alike."

"We're proud to support Starlight Xperience and look forward to bringing smiles to the faces of hospitalized children through this educational and inspirational program," said Andrew Peykoff II, President and CEO, Niagara Bottling. "This technology makes learning fun and we're excited to expand the program to even more children."

Thanks to the grants provided by The Walt Disney Company and Niagara Cares, in addition to the generosity of charitable donations from individuals, Starlight is on track to deliver up to 1,000 Starlight Xperience kits to its network of hospital partners by the end of 2018, with a goal of doubling that by the end of 2019. A donation to Starlight will entertain, educate and inspire hospitalized kids across the US through stimulating immersive experiences that transport children from the hospital to any place in the world - or BEYOND - through the magic of virtual reality.

The public is invited to learn more and support the program online at www.starlight.org/starlight-xperience.

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