Treloar’s students thrilled with Wetwheels Virtual Reality Powerboat experience
Pioneering disabled yachtsman Geoff Holt, MBE DL, founder of Wetwheels, a charity that provides barrier-free opportunities for all disabled people to enjoy the sea aboard specially-built, fully-accessible powerboats, has been a long standing friend of Treloar’s for many years, and invited a group of Treloar’s students to take part in the launch and first viewing of a ground-breaking 360 degree open water video adventure.
Geoff invited Treloar’s students to test out the new Virtual Reality experience, designed to bring the thrill of life on the open waves to disabled people anywhere at any time. Arlo, Sophie, Poppy and Sherwin took turns to try out the headsets. The experience transported them from the Treloar’s Sensory Garden to the waters of the Solent via the magic of a VR headset.
The six minute film has been designed to bring the same exhilaration that a Wetwheels powerboat ride gives on water to disabled people in their homes, schools, or care settings. It is filmed from the point of view of a wheelchair user, aboard a specially built fully-accessible Wetwheels powerboat.
Entrepreneur Geoff has developed the innovative high definition film, which can be viewed on a virtual reality headset or free on YouTube, specifically for disabled people who have been shielding throughout the coronavirus pandemic and unable to participate in a real Wetwheels session. You can watch what happened when our students tested the headsets on YouTube.
Poppy said after her experience ‘access isn’t always easy for wheelchair users, so it’s really nice to feel like I’m driving the boat.’ Arlo exclaimed ‘why aren’t I getting wet?’ during his experience and said afterwards ‘it was a fantastic experience’. Sophie who has been lucky enough to go out with Wetwheels in real life, said ‘it was almost like being there in person.’ She even felt a little sick afterwards!
Martin Ingram, Principal of Treloar’s, said: ‘The last year has been very challenging for many of our students. It’s wonderful for them to be the very first to try out the Wetwheels VR experience at its launch. We can see they really enjoyed having such a fantastic time – even if they didn’t even leave our grounds!’
This realistic film will allow disabled young people to actively participate and enjoy the high seas from their own homes or schools. After the long winter lockdowns we’re confident the experience will build confidence and boost their wellbeing.