As a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dance4Life realised it was important to discuss together with our franchisees and Trainers4Life how we could transform our programs and activities into online services. After some fruitful creative sessions, we changed gears fast, and by exchanging experiences, testing and learning we developed several online tools and trajectories: the COVID-19 Youth Guide, the gamified platform Academy4Life and our youth empowerment program Journey4Life.
The creative crisis response sessions were very motivating for our implementing partners. They led to a sense of friendship and connectedness that helped them overcome their disappointment – Amala Rahmah, director Rutgers Indonesia
The COVID/19 Youth Guide
In the end of March we published the COVID-19 Youth Guide. This is a visualized collection of information, links and resources that can support young people to navigate their lives in these challenging times, as well as inspire them to become leaders in dealing with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and was developed by our franchisees, Trainers4Life and the Research & Development team. The guide is also available in Russian and French, and was shared by the SRHR knowledge platform Share-Net.
Online modules on the Academy4Life
Our in 2019 developed digital and gamified Academy4Life – an interactive learning platform where personal, professional and SRHR skills can be developed together with coaches and experts – already offers online modules to our young international trainers. Since April 2020, 18 young advocates who are part of the Right Here Right Now alliance, have successfully been joining the platform to follow e-learning courses focused on their personal and professional development.
The Academy4Life experience was a life changing journey for me. It’s a big opportunity for young people to learn and develop skills while having fun. Growth, after all is meant to be fun and transformative – Moyo Nhlanhla, youth advocate
The platform envisions now to expand its users beyond Trainers4Life and youth advocates. Nina Pavlovska, Lead R&D team Dance4Life : “We live in an ever-growing digitalised world where young people are at the forefront of the adoption of the internet. In 104 countries, more than 80% of the youth population is online. Whether with fixed or mobile broadband technology, the youth have direct access to information and services, including online education”.
Dance4Life will first start broadening the Academy to franchisees. Online interactive modules will be co-developed to support the franchisees in reaching more scale and impact with delivering the Journey4Life online, online and offline referral, stakeholder engagement and fundraising.
Journey4Life going digital
Dance4Life also started a trajectory of making an online version of the Journey4Life. Not meant as a replacement of the in-person one, but as an opportunity for our franchisees and trainers to still be able to implement the Journey during COVID-19. Four franchisees and six Trainers4Life ran an experiment with online versions of the Journey4Life, including developing a guide with insights and learnings. Currently, 10 of our franchisees and trainers from Kenya, Ghana, Pakistan, Indonesia, China and Nepal, Russia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan have started on a co-creation journey to further co-develop this guide that supports facilitators in delivering the Journey4Life through video conferencing and instant messaging (Whatsapp, Zoom, WeChat, Telegram etc.).
This process of digitalisation and co-creation started as a response to the crisis in March when the franchisees and Trainers4Life from across the regions collectively shared their need for an online version of the Journey4Life. It has now evolved into a Learning Lab for Online Youth Empowerment. End of October this process, including aspects of digital safety, will be discussed during the Dance4Life Experience: a moment to learn, share, and inspire!
Creative online interventions
In the meantime, several creative responses were developed by our franchisees. The Online Parents Club by China Family Planning Association (CFPA) created modules for parents and young people about puberty, HIV/AIDS and teenage pregnancy, using channels such as TikTok and WeChat (Chinese Facebook). CFPA also started an Online Parents Club where parents can chat with each other and ask questions. FOCUS-MEDIA in Russia uses its online platform and other channels as Instagram Live to actively deliver content about reproductive health to Champions4Life and other youth. Additionally, they created a StayHomeCampaign and StayHomeChallenges to keep them active, engaged and healthy. In Kenya, our franchisee FHOK uses WhatsApp to deliver information to young people and SurveyMonkey to do pre- and post-tests to measure the increase in knowledge as well as assess needs for services. Our partner in Uganda reported that, because of limited access to the internet they focus on community engagement, the GUSO program has been adapted to ensure that access to SRHR services continues during the pandemic. Volunteers are supporting counselors at the Ministry of Health call centres, which have been specifically set up to provide tele-counselling and guidance on SRHR, GBV, HIV/AIDS and psychosocial support. Community health entrepreneurs have offered door-to-door services to ensure access to SRHR commodities in communities. A live public debate on COVID-19 and GBV was held in partnership with the media.
The realization for young people that they’re part of an international movement is so powerful, it motivates them to invest more. And this counts for our staff as well! – Ai min, project coordinator China Family Planning Association
Insights & lessons learned
By testing, experiencing and learning together, many insights were gained on the challenges and advantages of delivering the Journey4Life online. Advantages for example are: since young people love their smartphones, using popular digital tools are easy to manage and offer greater and direct access to young people. It also offers the possibility to increase reach (in quantity) more and reach further (geographically). The online Journey offers intimate, easy-access and safe space (especially WhatsApp). It is more inclusive and comfortable for participants that are shy and participants could engage their family in the activities.
On the other hand, there are still challenges to face and to work on: delivery is heavily dependent on technology and internet access, and it, unfortunately, excludes young people who haven’t got one; it can be costly for participants; it needs different skills set and preparations by facilitators; no eye contact makes it difficult to maintain connection and energy and monitor the engagement of all. Most importantly is that Dance4Life aims to make impact with the online Journey4Life. Therefore a Theory of Change is being developed to monitor and measure the effects of the online Journey4Life, together with the franchisees and trainers. We are looking forward to updating you soon.