Syringa house teens work together to learn about achieving goals

By Patricia Adam

Imagine creating a environment using characteristics of a hero inside a virtual reality program.

Seven teen girls from Northwest Children’s Home – Syringa House in Nampa took the chance to meet that challenge. For several weeks these teens have been learning how to create a virtual reality environment that helps them face their fears in life. The project also is a chance to work together to create something they will remember for a lifetime.

These seven teens are Naya, Crystal, Auriel, Amber, Heather, Jeanne and Jamie, and they have had nothing close to a "normal" life. These girls are all 16 or 17. They have experienced things that have knocked down their self-worth. These teens have experienced things like drug addiction, violence, sexual abuse and abusive relationships.

All they wanted was respect and a fair chance at life. When challenged to meet the goal of finishing the virtual reality program by relying only on each other, they not only met it, they conquered it.

Each teen was given certain responsibilities, and then they had to work together to build the environment. Responsibilities included building the objects through computer graphics, finding sound effects for the different virtual encounters and organizing photos and drawings for their environments. The project is designed to build an environment that is drug-free and shows the characteristics of a hero. The teens used characteristics such as perseverance, courage, wisdom and love. The experience taught the girls accountability for their actions and the concept of teamwork.

Warren Black is the founder and owner of VR Quest, the company that worked with the girls on the project. Black has given his time, money and facilities to help these girls find a better aspect of life and to teach them about choices.

Black said he was proud that "these girls followed through with their goals."

The teens learned a variety of lessons from the project. Some lessons were how to work with computer graphics, how to navigate the Internet and how to shape sound to fit an environment.

"I learned that I don’t have to be afraid of my fears because I can overcome them if I truly put my mind to it," Heather said.

Naya said she learned to have "patience," and Auriel said, " I learned not to give up on myself and that I can work for what I want."

Jeanne said the best part of the project was "watching our object being built."

"Being able to design an obstacle that represents my fear and finding ways to overcome them was the best part." Heather said.

The public is invited to view not only this project, but many more at

Excerpt from Press Tribune, Section C, Monday, June 5, 2000