When Covid first hit us we went into react mode! We reached out to as may Shedderz as possible in a bit of a panic to be honest! We soon got 'Zoomed' out! Once the initial shock wave was over we moved into 'respond' and started to look at new innovative ways to engage some of our harder to reach youngsters. Thanks to the Steve Morgan Foundation we got funding for the young Shedderz to create their own mobile app and to create an online platform of our own - an invitation only platform for young people, by young people.

Then we had an idea! Wouldn't it be awesome to have a Virtual Reality Youth Shed?!?! A place where Shedderz could meet in a virtual platform - a place that would be accessible regardless of ability, disability, confidence - a place where Shedderz could meet and explore virtual experiences.

And thanks to SIP funding, the Open University, Coleg Cymoed and funding from the KFC Foundation we have done it! We now have 10 VR headsets and a small group of pioneers met every Thursday night - from towns including Blaenau Ffestiniog, Ruthin, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno, Penmaenmawr, Neath in South Wales and Milton Keynes to develop a virtual space which in Youth Shed fashion became something much more than just a space to be. We began to think about ways to engage other young people with VR and using frame we began to create a VR escape room experience. Our creative writing group got together to help come up with clues for each of the objects and Jamie Griffiths kindly helped us with making 3D versions of those objects which we've hidden around the college campus we then began to fill the space with Youth Shedz picture, banners, principles and logos and made it ours.

Our VR headsets have also granted us more opportunities to further develop our connections in other communities by doing VR experiences for other organizations such as Holyhead carers and brighter futures, Rhyl, where we get a group of their young people together and let them try a game on the VR, allowing them to try something new that they otherwise might not be able to experience, or even letting them try out our own VR escape room experience!! 

Youth Shedz has still barely tapped into the full potential of VR and we are constantly looking for more ways to utilize our headsets and to create the best virtual space possible which is accessible to everyone- even without a headset. Watch this space to see how we further develop using the VR.

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