Our ground-breaking Spread The Word project does exactly what it says on the tin, spreading the word about how and why to avoid teenage pregnancy, unsafe sex and STIs in more ways than one!
What is Spread The Word?
Spread The Word is a totally unique and hugely engaging project that we devised to meet a very specific need. Back in 2010, the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham’s Integrated Youth Support Service were looking to commission innovative and exciting activities to engage young people from targeted areas (where teenage pregnancy figures were exceptionally high) and educate them about teenage pregnancy and sexual health.
Barking and Dagenham has historically had a high teenage pregnancy rate so we at Chain Reaction thought long and hard about how to devise a really great project that young people would want to be a part of and that could get important messages out to as wide an audience as possible. And then we had a brainwave!
So how do we Spread The Word?
We decided to run week-long workshop schemes in each of the areas with the highest teenage pregnancy rates. The project would use an exciting mix of media, theatre, and marketing to get participants (all aged between 14 and 19) to initially learn about the issues and then create their very own ad campaigns telling other young people why not to engage in risky or unsafe sex.
We decided the best way to make a real impact was to work holistically exploring the central issues of teenage pregnancy and sexual health (including addressing safe sex and STIs) but also cover related issues such as respectful relationships, peer pressure, drugs and alcohol affecting decision-making, accessing advice and support, and aspirations and planning for a successful future.
What does a week of Spread The Word look like?
The plan for the week is pretty intense but is designed to really get the young people focussed on what they’re doing. And with the help and support of our professional team of actors, directors, film makers, photographers and choreographers the participants really get stuck in!
Monday & Tuesday: Devising and Learning - We educate young people about the issues through the use of drama and other creative activities.
Wednesday: The Brief – We put young people in groups and give them the brief to come up with their own short viral advert, plus a slogan and a supporting poster idea to tell other young people about an aspect of teenage pregnancy and STIs that they feel is really important.
Thursday: The Community Consultation – We invite an audience of friends, family, and local health-care and youth-working professionals to watch the groups’ scenes and vote for the best.
Friday: The Shoot – All participants work together with our professional team of film makers and photographers to shoot the chosen advert and poster.
The Result: Each week we end up with an amazing viral advert that’s sent to all participants and goes online via email, Facebook and YouTube. The brilliant poster also goes online and gets sent to local schools, but more importantly gets professionally printed and displayed in poster panels in local buses and on huge 6ft JC Decaux owned poster advertising sites across the Borough. What a way to spread the word, right?! Why not check our our videos page to see some brilliant examples of the virals here. Alternatively you can see all our video work on our Youtube channel here.
Why do we think the project is so ground-breaking?
For so many reasons!
It works - For the first time since 2008 there has been a significant drop in teenage pregnancies in the borough - and not just a small drop - the figures have reduced by 37.4%!
Getting messages out there – We not only engage and educate our targeted participants but through the ad campaigns they create, we spread the word into the local community
Online campaign on Facebook, YouTube, and email – By using online methods to spread the word, we’re not only extending the reach of the work our young people are doing, we’re also meeting them in a space that they enjoy and use daily. And to date we’ve had over 8,000 views on YouTube – how about that for spreading the word!
Buying JC Decaux poster sites – By buying commercial advertising space across the Borough, we’re getting our young people’s work out in the community in a professional way they can be really proud of.
Handy onsite services – Our Spread The Word facilitators are all fully trained to distribute condoms and do Chlamydia screening at our workshops, giving participants access to important services that they might otherwise be too scared or embarrassed to engage with.
Involving all participants – It’s important to us that everyone is involved in the final shoot! Some kids really want to be on camera, others are a bit more shy so we make sure that everyone has a role they want, from being in the advert, to being in charge of purchasing props, costume design or even hair and make-up.
Involving community – Our community consultations mean that our participants not only get to show their work to their friends and families, but also mean they can meet and chat to local community professionals in a fun relaxed atmosphere. Plus it’s a great opportunity to use their new-found acting and performing skills!
Free lunch – Although we’re focusing on sexual health, we also bring healthy eating onto the agenda in a fun way that means our participants are fuelled up for a fantastic day!
Loads of attendees – During the first two years we reached 211 ‘at risk’ young people, far exceeding our issue-based targets.
High Profile - We were one of the 6 finalists for the Young Peoples Sexual Health Project of the Year at the Brook UK Sexual Health Awards 2012, plus we’ve had loads of great feedback from local professionals.
Gaining further funding for another 4 years – Considering this was originally planned to be a one year project, we’re pretty chuffed that so far we’ve run over eleven weeks of Spread The Word over the past two years. We’re currently delivering a new version of the scheme for 2013 involving longer-term engagement with our participants and we’ve already secured funding for more Spread The Word sessions in 2014 and 2015.
Great partnership working – Not only are we working very closely with our funders, but we’re also engaging on a deep level with LBBD’s Marketing Department, the Terrence Higgins Trust, the Pan London C-Card Scheme, local teen pregnancy and sexual health clinics and a huge range of local youth-working organisations so that this project engages the right young people and teaches them what they really need to know.
All in all, we’re incredibly proud of this project and of all the young people who have participated so far. Here’s to even more Spread The Word in 2014/15 and beyond!
Click here to view our amazing
virals on Youtube!
“I enjoyed everything, getting the day started with games and activities, then going into the learning phase, being able to make new friends and also learn at the same time...
I have learnt everything a young person needs to know when being sexually active.”
Why not get in touch to find out more and let us help your young people Spread The Word for themselves!
“STW is good because it brings together young people from different backgrounds for a common cause, giving them a sense of purpose and a phenomenal drive to achieve.”
Paul, Participant, age 18
“STW isn’t good, IT’s AMAZING!! Building young people up in terms of skills and group work and allowing us to make a difference to thousands of
other Young People.”
Jade, Participant, age 17