‘What’s Your Reality: A Journey Through Virtual Worlds’ is a free program delivered by YWCA Canberra Clubhouse & ACT Parks and Conservation Service. The mission is to harness the power of virtual reality (VR) to make Canberra’s natural parks and reserves accessible to all.
The Clubhouse has engaged ten students in year nine at Calwell High School to deliver this program and represent Canberra in the Parallel Parks program, where young people create virtual reality content that is designed specifically for young people with a disability.
The health benefits of adventure and being connected to nature are undisputed, but accessing Canberra’s nature-based experiences isn’t possible for everyone, especially those with a physically restrictive disability. Through the Parallel Parks program, young people with muscular dystrophy will be able to explore Canberra’s nature-based experiences through the eyes of participating students. The participants research the many activities available in Canberra Nature Parks, Mulligans Flat, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and Namadgi National Park, and have chosen fun and exciting activities that they would want to experience if they themselves had a physically restrictive disability. Using the new GoPro Fusion 360° filming technology, participants are venturing out in nature, filming their experiences, and commentating throughout. Participants are also learning how to use the GoPro film editing software and their experiences are being uploaded onto a dedicated YouTube channel that will be used by people living with a disability.
This is just the beginning for Parallel Parks, and the impact that ‘What’s Your Reality’ will have on young people throughout Australia who have a desire, but not the ability to get out and have fun in the bush. ACT Parks and Conservation Service is also in discussions with disability organisations in the ACT exploring opportunities to share these experiences.