Fighting bullying in Virtual Reality

A virtual reality project to develop empathy and fight bullying will be rolled out this fall in Quebec schools.

The Jasmin Roy Foundation announced Tuesday the launch of Ateliers 360, which “aims to stimulate empathy and develop emotional and interpersonal skills among high school students through the use of virtual reality.”

The project includes workshops of about 50 minutes preceded by an educational component prepared by the school.

According to the foundation, 23.3 per cent of young people in Canada are involved in violence and bullying as an abuser, victim or witness.

Jasmin Roy, who chairs the foundation, said he wants young people to learn how to mobilize and find solutions. The project features vignettes where young people can learn how to resolve conflicts and manage their emotions.

Virtual reality “plunges us into a world a little parallel,” Roy said in an interview, “but it still leaves a mark.

“Studies have shown that when you are (then) in a similar situation in real life, your brain has benchmarks.”

Many schools were demanding activities related to social and emotional learning, Roy said.

“There are a lot of tools that exist for elementary schools — managing emotions, how to express my emotions, my needs, how I talk to my classmate … But there are few tools to engage teenagers,” he said.

Schools interested in offering the workshops are invited to apply to the Jasmin Roy Foundation: info@fondationjasminroy.com. The organization is seeking donors so it can offer the activity to schools free of charge if needed.

Ateliers sponsors include the TELUS Community Board in Montreal, UNLTD, which produced the VR component, and the Pacific Institute, which developed the teaching and animation guides.