Young people are not to be ignored: There are an estimated 1.4 billion of them across the globe.
More than 40 percent of the world’s population is under the age of 25. In sub-Saharan Africa, the number is nearly 60 percent. The numbers are only expected to grow.
The aspirations and achievements of our youth will obviously shape the future. Yet too many still grapple with poverty, inequality and lack of access to health care and modern contraception. This and more keeps them from reaching their potential.
That’s why so many of the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs’ initiatives focus on youth and how we can help them make healthy behavior choices to set themselves on a successful life path. We invite them to be part of the process of program creation. Because who knows what young people want and need more than young people themselves?
In Indonesia, unmarried adolescents cannot access family planning services or methods through public health facilities and have little access to comprehensive, accurate and age-appropriate information about their sexual and reproductive health. Enter CCP’s MyChoice project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which created a new website with content for young people written by young people that earned more than 425,000 visitors in its first three months.
In Nigeria, the Gates-funded Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative (NURHI) employs youth advisors who are specifically charged with finding ways for their peers to understand reproductive health options. A recent program called #FPFriday recruited social media influencers and bloggers to spread accurate family planning advice online and has drawn millions to this high-quality content.
In Bangladesh, CCP’s Ujjiban project, funded by USAID, brings reproductive health education into schools, where students can have their sensitive questions answered. They get accurate and helpful information about their bodies and development through entertaining TV, radio, mobile phone, print and social media content.
In the United States, CCP partnered with the Baltimore City Health Department as part of the B’more for Healthy Babies project to develop a website called U Choose designed to give young people resources for preventing teen pregnancy. We mobilized a U Choose Youth Advisory Council of teens to create a youth-driven, dynamic, primarily web-based social marketing campaign to engage youth and inform their decisions about healthy relationships and sexual activity.
In Malawi, we sponsor Go Girls! Clubs, which aim to protect young women from HIV. In Mali, we developed the popular iKolosi mobile app to answer questions about puberty, reproductive health, sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancy and more.
Inspired by America’s Got Talent, CCP held a contest in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to identify young singer/songwriters to create new adolescent reproductive health messages designed to motivate their peers to seek out family planning services.