Young Voices Africa is a co-creation project that has developed an interactive package of sexual and reproductive health information materials – created by, and for, young people between 15 and 24 years old in Southern Africa.
Our Young Voices project started in October 2017 when we brought together a group of young people from across Southern Africa for a week-long workshop in Johannesburg. We talked about the information available to them on sex and HIV – what’s good, what’s bad, what’s missing, where they felt misunderstood, and how they wanted to talk about sex and relationships.
Together we created a series of videos and comics, on the issues that they felt were most important to them and their friends. Contemporary and empowering, the materials are about engaging young people to think through their own situations and those of their peers, giving them the knowledge and skills to make informed choices and take control of their own sexual health.
What’s in the Young Voices package?
Through the materials, we meet six characters who face their own dilemmas relating to sex, relationships and HIV. Each story addresses a theme that is relevant to young people living in the region – from having sex without a condom, unhealthy relationships, options for contraception, dating older people, talking about HIV, and saying ‘no’ to sex.
The stories are designed to promote thinking and discussion around these key topics, aided by the supplementary materials which include fact sheets and ideas for discussion. There is also an online (and offline) comic creator – giving young people the chance to create their own comic strip ending to the characters’ stories, in their own words. These can be completed alone or as part of group work.
Co-Creation – at the heart of Young Voices
We believe young people know best what types of materials will engage their peers. They know what themes should be given priority, and what messages are the most powerful, engaging and relevant to their experiences.
That’s why the messaging and content for Young Voices was developed in collaboration with young people from the five target countries (Lesotho, South Africa, Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe) through an initial workshop and with follow-up through WhatsApp groups.
By using a participatory content-creation process we have produced materials that are tailored to the needs of young people, so as to better promote HIV knowledge and behaviour change.
Young Voices Workshop – Johannesburg (October 2017)
A regional workshop brought together 20 young people from five priority countries. Through the workshop young people were encouraged to share their experiences, and those of their communities, to inform content that is authentic and to help create initial messaging ideas. They were also consulted on current trends, appropriate language, design preferences/influences and delivery platform preferences.
Young Voices WhatsApp Groups
WhatsApp groups were used after the workshop to engage more young people in shaping the content, with five country Whatsapp groups set up alongside the initial group. These five country-specific WhatsApp groups were set-up as a means for young people to chat and feedback on every stage of the content creation process, ensuring content co-creation continued beyond the workshop. The groups identified themes, shaped the scripts, informed the key facts and discussion materials, and tested the content and functionality of the online comic creator.
Who is Young Voices for?
Young Voices is free to use for any organisation or peer support group, school or individual. All the resources are easily accessed and downloadable on the Avert Young Voices Africa Hub, where you can explore the specific themes and meet the characters.
Young Voices Africa is a pilot co-creation project which launched in July 2018. We will be evaluating the uptake and results of this project over the coming 12 months. We plan to continue to use this co-creation model in the future, and create more IEC materials for young people in Africa.
If you are interested in finding out more, or supporting future co-creation work get in touch.