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Virtual Worlds 4 Health



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  • 1. The D.I.D.I. Initiative Using virtual worlds to promote good health Serious Games Pre-Conference 2008
  • 2. Project Overview
    • The Dream It. Do It. Initiative (D.I.D.I.)
    • Engages teens to create and lead their own sustainable ventures that address issues of health through Teen Second Life (TSL), the version of Second Life for youth ages 13-17
    • 18-month project launched September 2007 with goal of launching 40 venture teams and ultimately “tipping” TSL
    • A partnership between Ashoka’s Youth Venture and Global Kids, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • 3.
    • Pioneered the field of youth social entrepreneurship; youth division of Ashoka
    • Building a global culture of youth creating positive, lasting change
    • Invested in over 2,000 youth teams to launch their own social ventures, involving over 30,000 young people
    • Connecting them into a global network of Youth Venturers
    • Operating in 14 countries and growing
    Ashoka’s Youth Venture “ Youth Venture has encouraged diverse initiatives, ranging from sixth-grade kids who teach math to third-graders to high schoolers who have set up an internationally recognized organization to combat childhood diabetes.”
  • 4. Global Kids
    • Youth Venture is partnering with Global Kids to bring the YV opportunity to youth using Teen Second Life
    • Global Kids, a non-profit organization based in New York City, is dedicated to developing youth to become global citizens and community leaders
    • First nonprofit to develop a dedicated space for youth programs in TSL
    • Established Global Kids Estate within TSL, which hosts interactive, experiential programs for teens from around the world.
  • 5. Objectives
    • The primary objectives of this project are to:
    • Examine to what extent a virtual medium can promote youth changemaking
    • Explore online/offline cross pollination of youth development and changemaking
    • Determine the extent to which online endeavors affect youths’ mindsets about leadership and initiative
    • Test whether Youth Venturers could efficiently tip a virtual world from a culture of self-interest to promoting societal good
  • 6. How D.I.D.I. Works
    • Dream It. Do It. workshop: youth identify health-related problems in their community (local, virtual or international) and brainstorm ideas to tackle the problems using their skills and interests
    • Youth participate in a series of interactive workshops that explore issues of health and guide them through the process of forming teams and developing detailed action plans for their venture projects
    • Teams then present their ideas to a Selection Panel of peers and adults who determine whether the team’s venture is ready to launch
    The D.I.D.I. Process:
  • 7. How D.I.D.I. Works Dream It. Do It. Workshop Youth connecting problems they have identified with their passions and skills
  • 8. How D.I.D.I. Works
    • When teams are ready to launch, D.I.D.I. provides:
      • Seed funding (up to US $1,000 per team)
      • Ongoing tools and support
      • Peer Mentors to provide expertise and support
      • A network of fellow Venturers both within and outside of TSL
      • An identity as part of the global Youth Venture movement (
    Selection Panel
  • 9. What Is a D.I.D.I. Team?
    • A new initiative started by TSL residents that is youth-led
    • Creates benefit to the community
    • Addresses an issue related to health (defined broadly, including social determinants of health)
    • Has a credible plan that will be sustainable
    • Has an adult “ally” willing to support, but not control, the venture
    • Involves a strong team
    • Venturers who care and have the energy to be successful
    Teams can choose to launch ventures that function entirely within TSL or use the TSL space for creating and planning offline ventures
  • 10. Team Profile
    • Welcomes new TSL residents into the community by offering free classes on building and scripting, giving out freebies, and answering questions
    • Has an amusement park with rides to combine learning with fun
    • Aims to raise awareness of and knowledge about health issues that affect teens by posting flyers and having kiosks around the park with information on a variety of health issues
    Jump Start Park Launched February 2008
  • 11. Team Profile
    • In TSL addresses problems faced by teens including stress, self-mutilation, suicide, drug abuse, and underage drinking
    • Creating a peer support group to provide a place where teens around the world can discuss these issues and share ideas with other teens who are dealing with similar problems
    • Plans to raise awareness about these issues by creating and selling bracelets and t-shirts with inspirational phrases that reflect the team’s mission
    KLASS Launched March 2008
  • 12. Team Profile
    • Aims to raise awareness among peers in TSL about cancer and other major health problems
    • Constructing a facility where teens will be able to gather, learn about health issues, and participate in fundraisers to raise money for the American Cancer Society
    • Plans to facilitate group discussions for teens who have friends or family who have died or are suffering from disease to discuss their feelings and receive support from one another
    A New Tomorrow Launched April 2008
  • 13. D.I.D.I. Ambassadors
    • D.I.D.I. Ambassadors
    • Teen volunteers who have started D.I.D.I. Ventures or participate in other Global Kids programs
    • Meet bi-weekly with D.I.D.I. staff member
    • Use their various networks within TSL to help spread the word about D.I.D.I. on the TSL mainland (where adults aren’t allowed) in order to recruit TSL residents to launch ventures
    • Provide feedback on programming to D.I.D.I. staff
    The D.I.D.I. Ambassadors are currently working to put on a contest for TSL residents to spread the word about D.I.D.I.
  • 14. D.I.D.I. Staffing Youth Venture Global Kids Staff
    • Director of Global Digital Strategy (part time)
    • TSL Manager (full time)
    • AmeriCorps VISTA (half time)
    • Director of Online Leadership (part time)
    • Program Manager (full time)
    • Program Associate (full time)
    • Work with GK’s staff to design and carry out program activities;
    • Serve as primary resource for potential and launched D.I.D.I. teams
    • Run selection panels and provide seed grants
    • Conduct outreach to YV’s networks
    • Coordinate day-to-day operations and programming in TSL
    • Work with YV’s staff to adapt educational activities to TSL and helps carry out those activities
    • Design and maintain D.I.D.I. Island in TSL and manage land ownership
    • Run D.I.D.I. Ambassador Program
    • Conduct outreach to GK’s networks
  • 15. Outreach Strategies Within Teen Second Life Outside of Teen Second Life
    • Leveraging GK’s already-existing network of youth
        • Group notices, flyers
    • D.I.D.I. Ambassadors
    • Events and contests
    • Launched Venture Teams
        • Teens seeing what venture teams are doing
    • Word-of-mouth
    • YV and GK partner organizations
    • Orgs that are already using TSL
    • YV and GK networks of youth
        • Newsletters
        • Listservs
        • Social networking sites
        • Blogs
  • 16.
    • Fall 2007: Phase 1
    • Worked with youth recruited within TSL
    • Engaged 37 youth in Dream It. Do It. workshops
    • 4 venture teams presented to selection panels
    • Spring 2008: Phase 2
    • Working with youth from a middle school tech club
    • Working with TSL youth: 3 teams have presented to panels, approx. 10 teams currently forming action plans
      • Many of the teens participating in phase 2 were recruited by teams that launched in phase 1
    • Just began working with youth in a juvenile detention center
    • Summer 2008 Plans
    • Partnering with Digital Network Group to work with 40+ at risk youth in the D.C. area
    • Holding a “D.I.D.I. Summer Camp” session for teens recruited within TSL
    Outreach experience so far
  • 17. Lessons Learned
    • 1. Engaging teens in topics of health takes work
    • Youth often come up with venture project ideas that are not related to health
    • Working to further integrate concept of health into outreach materials and workshops
    • Asking youth to think about all aspects of health and how their venture idea could address a health-related issue
      • For example, a team that provides support to new TSL residents (mentoring, classes, freebies) suggested that their service would improve the health of the TSL community by helping new members integrate into and positively contribute to the TSL community
  • 18. Lessons Learned
    • 2. Teens and parents don’t want to cross the line between Second Life and real life
    • Prior to providing grants, YV requires team members to submit a form with their contact info and an agreement signed by them and a parent
    • We have found that a majority of parents of TSL users will not allow their children to give us their contact information, or to sign the Youth Venture Agreement, regardless of the amount of explaining we do
    • When asked for real life information, many teens feel uncomfortable and prefer to keep SL and RL entirely separate
      • Must adapt the YV program to the TSL context. We plan to start providing grants in the form of land instead of Linden Dollars for teams that aren’t able to provide contact info
  • 19. Lessons Learned
    • 3. Team building in a virtual setting is difficult
    • Youth form teams with other TSL users who are often on the other side of country or world and who they know solely through TSL
    • Many teams are finding it challenging to work together to build trust, understand each other’s level of commitment and expectations and coordinate venture activities
      • We have developed a workshop focused on team building and are working with teams individually to try to help them work through the challenges
  • 20. Lessons Learned
    • 4. TSL youth easier to recruit yet less likely to commit to a long-term project
    • We’ve found it’s actually easier in some ways to recruit teens to start venture projects in TSL than it is offline
      • Unlike real life, the TSL environment is already an extremely creative, entrepreneurial, youth-led space
      • Teens approached in TSL seem to be considerably less daunted by the prospect of starting a venture project than teens approached in real life
    • However, it is a challenge to ask youth to make a long-term commitment to their ventures
      • Youth often use TSL for a few months and then move on to something else
      • Within TSL, youth tend to think about time in terms of days and weeks rather than months
        • In the venture planning process, we have teams think about how their ventures will be sustainable – how they we will keep them going when the grant funding is used up or when they are no longer in TSL
  • 21. Other Virtual Worlds
    • Exploring potential for heath and youth changemaking education in other virtual worlds for youth such as , Habbo Hotel , and
      • Just formed partnership with for significant summer program
        • Whyville has over 3 million registered users ages 8-16
      • Exploring ways of modifying TSL program to fit Whyville context
        • Whyville’s 2D environment is focused more on social interaction than is TSL’s more “free for all” 3D environment
  • 22. Learn More
    • Adam Aberman
    • Director of Global Digital Strategy
    • Ashoka’s Youth Venture
    • 310.633.9593
    • [email_address]