Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and Nevada's stay at home order, VR Kids was in the recording studio with two professional bilingual voice actors recording brand new Spanish and English audio tracks for Journey to the Big Bear Festival. We had a lot of fun making these new recordings and having a Spanish version of our flagship therapeutic VR experience has been on the radar for a long time. Almost 25% of Las Vegas residents speak Spanish at home and often the kids that experience Journey to the Big Bear Festival are bilingual but their parents mostly speak Spanish. So, this new Spanish version is going to make the VR experience more inclusive to the whole family, and will bring even more smiles to kids in our area hospitals.

VR Kids in the studio with Elena Gandia-Garcia, Carlos Mendoza, RJ Sampson, Olivia Enriquez Contreras, and Benjamin Root

The project to create the Spanish version was spearheaded by one of our volunteers, Benjamin Root. He has been volunteering with VR Kids since November 2018, and is on his way to start medical school this Fall. Ben has been learning to speak Spanish in preparation for his medical career and wanted to help bring the VR experience to our Spanish speaking population. He organized the translation of the script, and found voice actors who could play parts in both Spanish and English, and got us all into the recording studio to make the new audio tracks.

Carlos and Olivia recording Spanish version of VR Kids therapeutic virtual reality experience.
VR Kids founder RJ with Ray and Kevin in post production.

Our translator for this project was Elena Gandía-García. She has been a professional translator for the past fifteen years and is a professor of Spanish at UNLV. We asked her why she was interested in helping with this project: "Although my field of study is the legal one, I have always been open to medical or community translation projects. I think that the recipient of the translations is always my motivation to accept new challenges." Every translation project is unique and this was Elena's first translation for a virtual reality experience. She taught us that it is important to define our target audience and tailor the translation to that group: "I had to remind myself that the translation was intended for a pretty specific and vulnerable audience, and that further changes might be needed during the dubbing process." The results of this thoughtful approach is a fun and natural sounding translation using Latin American Spanish that we think our Las Vegas Spanish speakers will really enjoy.

There are a lot of people who contributed their time and talents to this project and we are so grateful for their help. Thanks to Elena Gandia Garcia for translating Journey to the Big Bear Festival into Spanish (Viaje al Festival del Gran Oso). Thank you to Olivia Enriques Contreras and Carlos Mendoza our incredible voice actors – it was so fun to watch you bring the characters to life. Thanks to the team at 91.5 KUNV in the Hank Greenspun College of Urban Affairs at UNLV: Dave Nourse, Operations Manager, Kevin Krall and Ray Fletcher, recording engineers. It was a great experience for us to work with all of them, and we are excited to bring the new version of the Journey to the Big Bear festival to more kids when it is safe to volunteer at the hospitals again.

Learning the character expressiveness in VR Kids' Journey to the Big Bear Festival therapeutic virtual reality experience before recording.

During Nevada's stay at home order and the COVID-19 pandemic, the VR Kids' team has been busy implementing the new Spanish language option in Journey to the Big Bear Festival, VR Kids' flagship therapeutic virtual reality experience. We look forward to getting back to work in Las Vegas area homes and hospitals.