Interviews with purpose-driven leaders who are dedicated to helping others and making a positive impact in the world.
May 18, 2023
Carleigh Berryman | Viva Vita
TELL US, WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
Hi, my name is Carleigh Berryman and I’m the founder and CEO of Viva Vita. We’ve been delivering virtual reality to older adults since 2019 with the mission to help them live life to the fullest, whether that’s traveling, learning, or just relaxing in a beautiful location in virtual reality. We deliver virtual reality to more than 200 senior living communities across the U.S., UK, and Canada, as well as to individuals at home.
HOW DID YOU GET HERE?
I started Viva Vita in 2019 after graduating from university. I’d always been interested in entrepreneurship, so thinking about what I might do with a career after college I thought about the issues that are important to me. In school I studied business as well as psychology, where I learned about the mental health issues affecting older adults. There are millions of elders suffering from late life depression, anxiety, or both. The numbers are staggering. I’ve always had a great respect for older generations and those who came before us. It became personal when I realized that my own grandmother was exhibiting signs of late life depression. She lived alone at the time and was struggling with boredom every day. One day she told my family she didn’t really know why she was getting out of bed because she just didn’t feel like she had any plans. It was the issue of people feeling trapped and not being able to enjoy their golden years that caught my interest. Virtual reality was really becoming much more affordable and accessible at the time, so it was in combining those two big trends that Viva Vita was born.
WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR? WHY IS THIS WORK IMPORTANT TO YOU?
As young people, we don’t really realize how the mental health of our elders and grandparents may be suffering. I think many of us take for granted those in this late stage in life and assume they don’t need as much excitement or education. That’s the first major misconception I aim to change with Viva Vita. I believe every stage of life should be celebrated and enjoyed to the maximum, and the late stage in life is no different. They’re called “golden years” for a reason, so why not use the time to continue to fulfill these lifelong dreams? That’s a big part of Viva Vita. What’s become a part of our mission is to not only change the way we think about aging, but how we treat all generations. Our purpose is to expand people’s perspectives on what different generations are capable of, what they have to offer each other, and how we can all learn and benefit from one another by participating in community and engaging with one another.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
We have brought virtual reality to more than 10,000 individuals across senior living facilities and older adults at home. The numbers are a great way to measure how much business is growing, how people are adopting virtual reality, and what they think of virtual reality. What means the most to me are testimonials from our customers, our users, and their families. I appreciate hearing what they have to say about Viva Vita and how this chance to travel and explore the world around them has really broadened or expanded both their life and their world. That’s the biggest nod to our success, in my opinion.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO DO THIS WORK?
Certainly my Granny on my mother’s side, whose name is Glenda, is a big inspiration just being the catalyst of Viva Vita. Showing me the importance of this issue has been a huge inspiration. I take inspiration from both of my grandmothers. From my father’s side, I get a lot of my inspiration from my grandmother around working hard and building something sustainable. She was a single mother raising two boys in the 1960s and 1970s. She worked two jobs and made a lot of sacrifices for both her children and her grandchildren to get us to where we are today. I get a lot of inspiration from both of them.
WHAT’S YOUR VISION, YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
Virtual reality is an extremely powerful technology, and through all the metaverse noise I firmly believe it has the potential to make a huge impact on all of our daily lives, particularly in the healthcare/senior living setting. My vision with Viva Vita long term is to deliver this powerful technology to everyone who could enjoy the amazing benefits. Whether they’re in senior living communities, aging in place, or in the hospital setting as a patient, anywhere people say they feel trapped is where I want to be with virtual reality.
WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACING?
I think the biggest challenge is that a lot of people still have questions about virtual reality. They don’t understand how it can benefit them or how they can use it. I think some larger companies could do more to educate users who are interested, explaining how to access VR. Some of the marketing methods and operation methods that larger companies use with virtual reality don’t necessarily take into account challenges that folks have with accessibility, especially when we’re talking about older adult populations. As people become more aware of what virtual reality is and how they can actually use it in their daily lives, it will continue to get easier to educate and deliver VR to more people.
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR CAUSE AND/OR THE WORK YOU’RE DOING?
Virtual reality is a powerful tool that can be used from any location at any time. People might be wary of the technology, especially those who claim they’re not tech savvy. Offerings are evolving and virtual reality is becoming more accessible and affordable every day. It’s worth trying it out and seeing what it can do for you.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE QUOTE OR WORDS OF INSPIRATION TO SHARE?
Our company motto is something that I try to live by every day: to live life in all its forms and as much as you can.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
We would love for you to check us out and learn more at our website. Additionally, share the power of virtual reality with those in your life.
At Orapin, we believe those who are working for the greater good should be known, supported, and celebrated. We help purpose-driven organizations launch or up-level their PR program by giving them the strategy, resources, and support they need to increase awareness and expand their impact. If would like to be featured in INSPIRED IMPACT™, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.