Racing across mountains at Yellowstone National Park, visiting Caribbean beaches or orbiting outer space are experiences 15-year-old Jose Mauricio Cordova Campos thought he’d never have. But at MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital’s K-12 school, he and other patients “travel,” using the new Google Expedition virtual reality program.
Once a week, patients in the school’s Pediatric Education and Creative Arts Program don virtual reality, or VR, goggles, and step into a different world. Sometimes the places they visit relate to current news stories or national holidays. Sometimes lessons focus on history and various cultures.
“With this interactive educational program, we like to give our students an opportunity to pick a place that fits the lesson of the day,” says Bonnie Butler, senior coordinator and teacher. “It’s a real cool experience to use the VR goggles,” says Mauricio, who’s being treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
“It’s like you’re really there and seeing it up close.”
Butler says the virtual reality expeditions give patients a chance to escape their daily lives as cancer patients and see and learn about different places they may never have thought to visit.
“Seeing their awe and wonder when viewing national landmarks, deep oceans or flying meteors makes me happy to be part of something so cutting edge,” she says.