Meaningful VR experiences with Jimmy the Olympian

Meaningful VR experiences with Jimmy the Olympian

We’re delighted to share a wonderful story from our valued partner, Avivo, based in Western Australia and one of the people they support, Jimmy.

Jimmy is 60 years old and lives with his wife and eldest son. He also has two daughters, and a number of grandchildren that live in the region.

When he was 21, he played hockey for Kenya in the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 1984.  He has the status of an Olympic athlete forever, and his family are very proud of him.

Jimmy has Huntington’s disease, a rare, inherited disease that causes the progressive breakdown (degeneration) of nerve cells in the brain. Huntington’s disease has a wide impact on a person’s functional abilities and usually results in movement, thinking (cognitive) and psychiatric disorders.

The impact on Jimmy has progressively gotten worse over time.

He has always prided himself on being a fit and healthy man, and it’s been a real blow to him to not be able to move around as much in recent years.

He loves his support workers and often watches his TV where he has culturally appropriate programmes – Jimmy is a proud Sikh and this is important to him.

When Avivo first met him (10 years ago) he desperately wanted to visit India, and against all the odds, he did! It was a wonderful time for the family, although it seemed unlikely he would be able to physically make the trip again in recent times.

Jimmy exploring the Pyramids

With the expansion of Avivo’s partnership with SilVR Adventures in Western Australia, Jimmy’s support worker believed virtual reality could really offer enhanced quality of life for Jimmy.

No one really knew if Jimmy would want to go on a VR adventure, he doesn’t speak with words, however his body language and eyes do the talking. 

He has limited movement in his body or his head but indicated he was willing to give it a try.

1984 Olympic Games Kenyan Men's Hockey Team

Jimmy (front row, 5th from the left) with his team mates ahead of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles

His wife advised a trip to Egypt might be enjoyable, as he had been there many years ago. During the VR session, his support worker moved him around in his wheelchair and helped to move his neck up and down to see all these different places, and enjoy a full immersive 360° view. 

He indicated he wanted more and there was really only one place to go for Jimmy – his beloved India.

This time, Jimmy’s wife began talking to him throughout the adventure, with shared enjoyment and engagement. Treasured memories and stories were recalled and shared.

At the end of his tour, Jimmy’s support worker helped to take off the VR headset;

When his VR headset came off,
he was alive,
I truly can't explain it in any other way,
his eyes were sparkling.


Avivo are making plans to visit regularly, so that Jimmy can enjoy many more meaningful adventures in virtual reality.

For more about Jimmy, see the video above and for more information on Avivo, please visit:

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