Pioneering disabled yachtsman Geoff Holt, founder of the Wetwheels charity that provides barrier-free opportunities for all disabled people to access the sea aboard specially-built, fully accessible powerboats, has launched a groundbreaking open water video adventure.
The Wetwheels immersive video has been created to give young disabled people, particularly those who have been shielding during the pandemic, a seafaring experience using virtual reality headsets, from their home, school or care setting. It will also be available on YouTube.
At the launch, held at Treloar College, Hampshire, students were given the first opportunity to experience the video ride and enjoy life on the open wave. The high definition film, which features 360 degree boat and sea views, uses specialist software to bring the same exhilaration that a Wetwheels powerboat ride gives on the water to land-locked disabled people.
The project is the brainchild of Geoff Holt MBE DL, who founded Wetwheels in 2011. During the pandemic, Geoff recognised the isolation felt by disabled young people who were unable to leave their homes, let alone get on the sea.
Geoff said: “My lightbulb moment for this video was triggered by a conversation I had with Juno Hollyhock, CEO of Southampton’s Rose Road Association, about how many disabled people were profoundly affected by ‘Covid isolation’ and needed to get out and about.
“Juno said that Wetwheels was top of her list to take the children to as soon as the coronavirus restrictions were eased because of their desperate need to get ‘air in their lungs’. This immediately got me thinking how I could help them, and the idea of bringing the video experience directly to them started.”
“There is something very special about being on the water. For someone with a disability, being at sea offers unparalleled freedoms. Your mind and imagination fill with things that once did not seem possible.”
The video was produced by Soundview Media and ties in with the latest research into ‘Blue Health’ – the link between urban blue spaces, climate and health and how virtual environments might be used to boost wellbeing for vulnerable people. Find out more at bluehealth2020.eu/research