The UnWANTED Project
Description of Program
What is the intervention/program/project?
The UnWANTED Project developed and distributed resources made by and for youth living in small, rural communities in Northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Youth from communities across the region attending a collegiate campus school created a graphic novel that addressed four themes related to sexual health, including HIV:
1. Sex, drugs and alcohol;
2. Access to information in the North;
3. STIs, HIV and Hep C: Knowledge and gaps;
4. Condom use.
After producing the graphic novel, youth developed a series of accompanying resources, such as posters, magnetic trading cards, a calendar, website animation and mouse pads. The youth also developed a drama production, which was shown in conjunction with workshops sessions. Youth were involved in all aspects of the project, from the development phase through to the evaluation.
What is the goal/objective of the intervention/program/project?
The project goal was to create a youth resource, made by youth and for youth, to reduce the number of STIs and HIV infections in the North.
Why was the intervention/program/project originally developed?
The project was developed to identify what issues youth in the North face with regards to sexual health. It was based on responses to a needs assessment.
How did you develop this intervention/program/project?
The project was developed in collaboration with a professor at the University of Manitoba through a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada grant. The project began with a needs assessment conducted through a knowledge, attitude and behaviour survey in schools. The project team returned to participating schools and conducted focus groups. In the schools, youth from the ages of 16-21 identified ways to disseminate sexual health information back to their peers. Youth developed a plan to create a graphic novel, including the themes, characters, storyline, resources and evaluation process. After the novel was complete, the youth indicated that they needed more supportive resources. The youth created a variety of other materials and a drama production. Youth received academic credits for their participation in the project. The project was completed in June 2010. Resource distribution is ongoing.
Organization595 Prevention Team and the Play It Safer Network
- Resource development
- Indigenous peoples
Youth workshops were held in Cranberry Portage, MB.
Project ResourcesThe graphic novel is online and available at http://www.playitsafer.ca/resources.html. The poster and magnetic training cards are not online but available upon request at no cost (other than shipping charges).
Resources for Program
- Facilitators (including Play it Safer staff and a drama teacher).
- A community health representative.
- A professor at the University of Manitoba, who developed the consent forms, focus groups, etc.
- Volunteer research advisors.
- Meetings (development and processes).
- Food and snacks for youth.
- $10 gift cards for youth, which were offered in a draw at each meeting in order to incentivize attendance.
- Development of resources.
- Poster, magnet, calendar, etc.
DurationProject ended in 2010. Resource distribution is ongoing through CATIE and the Play it Safer network.
Audience/client feedback and satisfaction
- Student focus groups, paper surveys and online surveys to assess novel’s reach and impact. Feedback sheets were filled out by workshop participants after every session.
- Number of posters/novel copies produced and distributed to assess extent of dissemination of materials.
Evaluation TermsAudience/client feedback and satisfaction, Output tracking
- The key learning was the importance of ensuring that the project was developed by youth for youth. Youth were involved in all stages of the project and were at the table with health researchers.
- The materials were not edited. All were developed in youth’s language to ensure that the project was theirs. Youth were named as authors, which fostered a stronger sense of ownership.
- Materials incorporated Northern images. The project held a photo contest, asked youth to take pictures in their communities, and used those pictures.
- Involving the youth in distribution helped them take ownership over the project. Youth from First Nations communities took information home for distribution. This was much more effective than sending parcels to community health centers.
- The vast representation of youth, from throughout Northern Manitoba, ensured that more than one community or youth group’s perspective was included.
- Youth were never given set honorariums for participation. Youth received school credits and were given gift cards, snacks, parties and celebrations for milestones.
- Partnerships made the process easier to implement. Partnerships with the school facilitated access to students and contributed to the sustainability of the program over the course of five years.
- The biggest challenge was obtaining the school’s buy-in to the initial needs assessment survey. The survey touched on sexual health issues and used language that some schools were not comfortable with.
- The geography of the region presented challenges. The area is very large, there are many little communities, and including the entire region in the program was difficult.
- Data analysis and the more technical aspects of research entailed a learning curve for staff. The project team had no prior knowledge of data analysis, focus groups and research-related processes until it began working with researchers.