At this year’s World Polio Day in Atlanta,UNICEF and Rotary, organisations dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges, are harnessing the power of virtual reality technology to build empathy and inspire action in their fight to eradicate polio.
INITION were commissioned by both charity organisations to come up with a solution beyond traditional VR storytelling and inspire action, establishing them as pioneers in the digital landscape and showcase their high standards of tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges through innovation in order to stay agile and find solutions to the evolving challenges affecting all children.
UNICEF has worked with virtual reality since 2015, recognising that immersive experience can be a powerful advocacy tool. The agency, together with INITION produced a film, You are there: On the road to making polio history. Actor and goodwill ambassador Ewan McGregor introduces and narrates the five-minute film, which takes us to a Kenyan village to meet a nine-year-old boy, Job, infected with polio and Sabina, a dedicated vaccinator, who will do whatever it takes to spare other children his fate.
See the full 360 film below:
Rotary partnered with INITION to produce a virtual reality film that tells the story of Alokita, a young adult who suffered paralysis from polio as a child growing up in India, which has been polio-free since 2011.
Actress and polio ambassador Archie Panjabi introduces us to Alokita, part of the last generation of children to be affected by polio, and the doctors working to provide corrective surgery to survivors like her. Viewers are transported to India as soon as they put on the virtual reality headset, which transmits the 360-degree mix of sights and sounds. In this interactive environment, viewers roam the streets of Delhi and the halls of St. Stephen’s Hospital, home to India’s only polio ward, where Alokita takes her first steps in 11 years.
Both films debuted on World Polio Day on the 24th of October at the Atlanta headquarters of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where facilitators walked newcomers through the individual viewing process. The two films will travel to San Diego for an audience with Rotary leaders at the International Assembly in early 2017 and will be available to the public later in the year.
- Watch the World Polio Day livestream at endpolio.org for a global update on the polio eradication campaign.
- Use #endpolio to join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.
Since UNICEF and Rotary began their partnership in 1988, both organisations, as members of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative have played a fundamental role in dramatically decreasing the number of polio endemic countries. In 1988, an estimated 350,000 cases of paralytic polio occurred; at that time, polio was endemic in 125 countries. Today, polio remains endemic in just two countries: Afghanistan and Pakistan. If the world succeeds in ending polio it will be only the second time in history that a disease has been wiped off the planet, the first being smallpox.
“Through VR we are now able to demonstrate global development challenges by bringing the most marginalized and vulnerable children into the conversation.” -UNICEF
Stories direct our perspective through abstract words, minimal sounds, and virtual space to remind us that we can think, feel, and act beyond ourselves for everyone’s benefit. Isn’t that the ultimate goal of using VR as a medium of storytelling. We want to bring people together, to decrease the prevailing polarization in our society, and to change hearts and minds to change the world.
FEEDBACK FROM INITION
‘We wanted to deliver to UNICEF & ROTARY VR films that were high in production value, making full use of 360/3D and positional sound, engaging and extraordinary to view. Throughout the production, from concept to delivery, our watch word was ‘insight’. Through the insight that VR affords, by stepping into the worlds we were presenting, by participating on the journeys being taken, would flow understanding, respect and a positive belief that the challenge of eradicating polio was a fight well worth supporting’. –
360/3D cinematographer for UNICEF ‘You are here’ & Rotary ‘End Polio Now’
& Head of 360/3D Film Production at INITION
“Working on ‘You are there: On the Road to Making Polio History’ has been an amazing experience. Being able to show in VR the hard work and dedication of Unicef and volunteers and that it takes a whole community to eradicate polio had been an unique insight. Creating an emotional connection was really important to us in producing this film and by seeing intimate moments in a home and a snippet of a child’s school life we hope we have achieved this”-