Larkin Street Youth

Case Study

There are approximately 4,000 children in the Tenderloin:

67% - Asian or Southeast Asian

12% - Caucasian

11% - African American

5% - Hispanic

5% - Other

<p\>The Tenderloin has the highest crime rate of any district in San Francisco. The annual crime rate has an average of 2 crimes per resident and 3 major crimes per hour.

Currently, 1 in 3 youth experiencing homelessness within the U.S. live in California. With such a high rate of homeless youth in California, there is a great need for services to help youth access stable housing, education, employment, and health and wellness services. In San Francisco, Larkin Street Youth is focused on exactly that. Larkin Street Youth provides a wide range of care for young people, including housing, education, employment, outreach, and health/wellness. Their aim is to not only help the homeless youth to get off the streets but also wants to improve their overall wellbeing.  

Virtual reality for wellness

As they work to improve the health and wellness of youth, Larkin Street coordinates with various organizations to find community resources, behavioral health services, and other support for the youth they work with. Charieke Robinson, a Learning Center Health and Wellness Instructor at Larkin Street Academy, reached out to NewPath VR in the search for support to provide virtual reality experiences to help youth in exploring and transforming moments of loss.

“VR isn’t for those who are better off. Just the opposite. One of its benefits is that it makes available tools and skills training to everyone that were previously unobtainable. VR offers the ability to help people by not relying solely on their own creativity and visualization alone.”

At Larkin Street Youth, Lisa worked with the participants in an exercise about examining a moment of loss, by having them drawing and writing about it, before ultimately creating a representation of the moment in virtual reality. They used the Google Tilt Brush to construct nature environments, graffiti, and abstract art when prompted to express themselves with the 3D painting program. Additionally they explored applications using music and other ways to embody their experiences in virtual reality, allowing them to explore and express themselves in a variety of ways through this transformative technology. NewPathVR provided 4 sessions to the participants at Larkin Street Youth, where they were able to use a variety of applications to explore loss as well as express themselves in a safe space, providing them with the opportunity to have fun and be able to process difficult memories and reduce stress in a fun, creatively boundless way.