Youth go global with phones set to stun

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A student tries out Catholic Mission’s new Mission in 360 experience, which will also be available at the ACYF in December. PHOTO: Catholic Mission

Catholic kids at St Mary’s primary in Georges Hall have been on an eye-opening trip to East Africa, and they haven’t even left the classroom.

It’s thanks to Catholic Mission’s new “Mission in 360”, utilising virtual reality technology with footage shot in communities around the world.

St Mary’s is one of only a handful of schools around Australia that were chosen to trial the initiative.

The first videos immerse kids in real communities in Uganda and Ethiopia, where food shortages threaten catastrophic loss of life without the support of aid agencies, such as Catholic Mission and Caritas Australia, and their supporters.

Catholic Mission is also set to offer the experience to the more than 15,000 young people expected at the Australian Catholic Youth Festival in Sydney, 7-9 December.

St Mary’s Religious Education Coordinator Michelle Gear said 360 had been a big hit with her students, and was enthusiastic about the ongoing possibilities for learning.

“To have the opportunity to be in a different environment and to see the different lifestyles that people live is definitely going to be beneficial,” Ms Gear said.

“I think it’s really good to see things from a different perspective, and when we’re looking at Gospel values and showing compassion and love to other people, it’s important to see those who are living less fortunate than us. It is something that I can see working in this school. I think it can be beneficial to [the students’] … understanding of other people’s environments”.

Simone Medri, Catholic Mission’s Digital and Online Manager, is responsible for the implementation of Mission in 360. He says it opens up a range of formation opportunities.“The beauty of Mission in 360 is that it transports the viewer into the scene, so they can be a part of that life for a few minutes,” Mr Medri said.

“This will really enhance our focus on Uganda during World Mission Month in October.”

Mission in 360 will be made available to schools during World Mission Month celebrations in October.

Mission in 360 experiences are available at www.catholicmission.org.au/360