Pilot Program History
In 2018 the Seattle Public Library launched their first virtual reality co-design project. This initiative centered on leveraging the library’s special collections to bring history to life through virtual reality. As the project team learned more about co-designing virtual reality experiences, they realized the potential for using co-design and VR as a way to support teen mental health. That realization led to the birth of VRtality.
That’s why, for the pilot initiative, Seattle invited urban D.C. Public Library and rural Fayette Public Library Museum and Archives in La Grange, TX to join the project.
The pilot work of these three libraries enabled library staff to learn together how to build mental health-based co-design activities for and with teens. Over the two years of the pilot, library staff learned what aspects of VRtality work across all libraries and what aspects need to be customized to succeed with a local community. They learned together differences in facilitating VRtality virtually, in-person, and in combination (virtually and in person). And they learned together about the core ingredient in this work – building authentic relationships with teens and supporting youth voice and agency.
All of the learnings of the three libraries are brought together on this website.
Having these consistent, open conversations about mental health is a way for teens to become more self-aware. The more self-aware teens are, the better they are able to communicate frustrations and needs—possibly before a full-blown crisis.