Participants in an ARH storywriting workshop warm up before a writing session.
The Know Yourself Adolescent Reproductive Health (ARH) Communication Programme is a good example of the application of VIPP to a
comprehensive initiative that
is reaching a large percentage of Bangladesh's 30 million adolescents, through various channels, with the information, motivation and the skills they need to develop positive reproductive health behaviors. The Know Yourself Programme is being implemented by the Health Communication Partnership, Center for Communication Programs at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. It involves an integrated, multimedia communication design aimed at building adolescents' abilities and confidence to foster healthy transitions to adulthood. The activities are grounded in interactive methods, involving adolescents, parents, teachers, service providers and community leaders, supported by an entertainment education approach through print and the mass media.
The programme was developed through an extensive process of research and a “bottom up approach.” Consultations were undertaken on strategies, themes and communication
materials involving adolescents, researchers, writers, media personnel, programmers and trainers. To ensure their full engagement, various VIPP methods were used in a series of participatory workshops. This engendered wide-scale ownership in the programme to ensure that the materials developed would be fully acceptable to a wide range of stakeholders and
address the needs of the intended adolescent audience. Also involved in these processes was the Adolescent Working Group with representatives from the Government of Bangladesh – health, social development and media officials,
as well as
NGOs and donors, including UNICEF.
They participated alongside adolescent representatives in the VIPP consultations. They helped
strategic plans, materials development, and with dissemination. This wide-scale participation created a process of “dialogue” regarding the ARH issues among policy makers, programmers, service providers and adolescents, including their families. As a result, more and more partners are integrating the Know Yourself package in their adolescent programmes.
Programme materials consist of booklets
on ARH issues, life skills
manuals and entertaining videos, comic books and nationally-broadcast television and radio magazines series. Themes include physical and emotional changes during puberty and adolescence; sexual attraction, learning about conception and sexual delay; prevention of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, and coping with AIDS;
harmful effects of drug and substance abuse;
early pregnancy; reproductive health and family health. These issues are treated in a culturally-sensitive manner, with less-direct approaches used in the mass media. All the materials and activities are interlinked and mutually reinforcing. Life skills training and workshops using VIPP methods have become an integral part of empowering young people to address their problems, analyse them and seek out possible solutions or coping mechanisms. Through the use of VIPP processes they are enabled to discuss their issues in a democratic environment and agree on feasible solutions.
The results of the adolescent and parent surveys provide considerable evidence that the community-level activities of the Know Yourself programme increased adolescent knowledge and stimulated parent-adolescent communication about reproductive health topics.