We created VRforHealth to help accelerate access to the wellness and therapeutic uses of Virtual Reality and subsequently connected with a very valuable organization doing just that.
18Loop which focuses on helping children with cancer, is headed up by the amazing Greg Tarnacki, who needs help from all of us in order to reach his next goal of acquiring 407 headsets. Here is their GoFundMe Page. Please support 18Loop!
Giving Tuesday, a global generosity movement, is November 29th. Give now, give on Nov. 29th, and continue giving, one headset for each family who has a child with cancer. Greg and his team of volunteers are doing outstanding work, in partnership with the American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO). Read on!
Denise Silber and Beth Savoldelli
We’re so excited at VRforHealth to support 18Loop. Greg, please remind our readers about your work at 18Loop.
Thanks so much for your help. 18Loop deploys Virtual Reality to help kids with cancer tolerate treatment, recover and thrive. Kids with cancer are pulled away from their school and spend a lot of time in the hospital. VR can impact them in terms of virtual stress management. 18Loop deploys Tripp * meditation environments. The children also participate in physical gaming and have the ability to collaborate and log into learning environments. And they experience pain reduction. More than 90% of our cancer families say their children are better off with VR immersion. Half say that VR is beneficial for pain tolerance.
*Tripp is another great partner of VRforHealth and you can read their profile here
Tell us about your partnership with the ACCO. How does the headset go to the right family?
18Loop reaches its kids with cancer, exclusively through the American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO). 18Loop and the ACCO are conducting joint research on the impact of VR for the childhood cancer population through our Joint Experimental Intervention Research Study (JEIRS). Our results are so encouraging that we are actively seeking to rapidly scale participation. We believe that the technology is mature enough to continue to be very beneficial to the population we are working with.
The ACCO has been around for 50 years and is the oldest and largest grass roots childhood cancer nonprofit. Our partnered team has the ability to reach 7,000 children in an accelerated time frame. Headsets often go to Gold Ribbon children, who fight cancer and assist other children and families in doing the same. We are developing logistics and support methodologies designed to improve our capability to deliver for our kids. Currently, 18Loop and the ACCO have deployed VR headsets to kids in 26 states. Our early progress has been supported by Meta and Servier Pharmaceuticals, who have provided technology donation and grant support. 18Loop is a 2021 Honorable Mention Fast Company World Changing Idea, something we couldn’t have achieved without our partners at the ACCO.
What feedback have you received from the families that receive a headset for their ill child?
18Loop has received a number of stories from our research study about the power of VR for families. Our first 18Loop child, Elizabeth, whom you see in the photo, reported that the Tripp meditation environment was not only beneficial when she was in treatment, but also helped her siblings with the stress of dealing with her illness. Initially, this surprised us, but around every corner we have uncovered ancillary benefits that we did not originally predict. Immersion in VR environments generally produces a positive effect, but this is improved when those environment are scientifically tuned to produce a result. Tripp stress management and meditation is one such environment.
VR has also had a big impact on treatment results. Physical activity in the hospital helps to flush out chemotherapy drugs and produces a positive effect that oncologists love. Additionally, we have had a family thank us for the benefits of VR meditation as a component of their grieving process for a child that they lost. This taught us that the power of the technology had an impact even after a child succumbed to the disease. Palliative care physicians look for interventions that have a family impact and VR is a true family intervention. In the future, 18Loop is looking to quantitatively measure that impact on cancer parents and children.
What are your goals in numbers?
To-date, we have distributed 73 VR headsets to our kids and families, one headset per family. And we now have ambitious goals at 18Loop. Our team would like to help 1% of the childhood cancer population by June 30th, 2023. Considering that there are actively about 48,000 kids in the United States affected by cancer from diagnosis to recovery, our goal is to hand out 480 headsets. That leaves 407 to be sourced to reach out goal.
How does Giving Tuesday fit into 18Loop’s plans?
Giving Tuesday, the peak giving day for many donors around the world, is a great time to encourage our current supporters and prospective donors to contribute to our mission. Last year at this time, we were relying on our board to fundraise and were working with grant money we had received from our partners.
Now we will need to solicit individual donations, pursue larger grants and continue to streamline our effort to grow support. With the focus on our 407 headset goal, 18Loop will have to raise over $160,000. Our 10 person board-run team is all volunteer. We pay no salaries, so all of the money we have raised goes entirely to funding the technology. Donors can feel confident that their contribution is directly impacting a cancer family. So, please give to 18Loop through our GoFundMe Page. Please support 18Loop!