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Virtual reality park helps people in Big Bend rebound from pandemic

Virtual park connecting people across Florida
Posted at 4:25 AM, Jun 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-11 04:26:03-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Virtual reality is helping people across the Big Bend rebound from the pandemic.

SportsAbility Park is a new, virtual experience helping people with disabilities get active and break free from the pressure and isolation brought on by the pandemic.

“It’s cool,” said Connor Yeatts.

“I think it’s a great experience to see another world,” added Treveon Bell.

Both benefiting from the innovation inside these virtual reality headsets.

“The first time I did it, I was in a park,” Yeatts added. “It was so cool, because I had never done it before.”

“Because of the pandemic,” Bell shared, “we can stay in contact even though we’re far away from each other.”

Keeping in contact has been tough for many throughout the pandemic.

“People are isolated. They’re feeling depressed,” explained Laurie Gussak. She is executive director with Sportsability Alliance in Tallahassee.

She said disabilities can make that divide even more difficult to cross. “This is a way for people to reach out, find other people and talk to them.”

SportsAbility helps people of all abilities get active. They work to enhance lives through accessible, inclusive recreation. They have partnered with Thomas Jackson, founder of Covalent. His company is a local firm specializing in virtual experiences. For him, the mission is personal.

“My mom, we dreamed about this,” Jackson shared. “She was in hospice with cancer and in bed. She was a big believer in VR and what it could be. To be able to escape the pressure of the everyday. If anything, COVID proved to me the power of this technology.”

“It’s for people of all abilities so we can come together and do things together,” Gussak added.

SportsAbility Park is free and can be used via VR head set or on a computer.

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