SCAD students create VR program to treat hospice patients

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Students from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) are using their talents to help those who need it most.

SCAD students have collaborated with Hospice Savannah on a project called “VR for Good.”

The students created three virtual reality programs for hospice patients to reduce patient pain, anxiety and provide a much-needed escape.

“We’re seeing that beautiful community go beyond just SCAD and Hospice Savannah,” President and CEO of Hospice Savannah Dr. Kathleen Benton said. “These students are from all over the world and they’re working in sync for the good of others.

The students, who were scattered across the globe due to the pandemic, learned how VR can be applied to the medical field.

“They’re an example to society that this is a time that we put our heads together and hold hands and work together to do good for others,” Benton said, “because quite frankly, that may be what gets us through during times of hard mental health.”

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, students observed a Hospice Patient using their VR programs from a Zoom video, while their professors helped the patient.

“I wanted to take SCAD’s VR for Good Class primarily because I wanted to do exactly that, I wanted to do something good,” SCAD Interactive Design student Richon Watson said.

“And it was even more exciting for me that I could actually take my talents and skills I’ve built throughout my years at SCAD and do something that’s actually going to help people and go out there into the real world,” he added.

Hospice Savannah is the only nonprofit nursing home in the area using VR therapy and one of the only in the country using an interactive design program like this for treatment.

“Even more importantly, I’m going to do something that’s going to help people with their lives and have a better experience, even if it’s toward the end of it,” Watson said. “And that is a really valuable experience for me.”

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