This is How We Are

Radio Soap Opera Address Youth Sexual Health in Alamor, Ecuador
Jul 26, 2010 9:00 PM ET

(3BLMedia/theCSRfeed) New York, NY - July 26, 2010 - The youth of Puyango, Ecuador have taken over the airwaves. After two years of working to improve the local environment through radio programs and community campaigns, the young volunteers of Radio Integracion in Alamor, Ecuador decided to give the conversation a new tone and address issues of great import to the community -- youth sexual and reproductive health and rights.

The topic change came about after meetings led by representatives of Radio Integracion and PCI-Media Impact with students and adults from around the region. Though the focus group included a wide range of ages, socio-economic backgrounds and equal representation from both genders, the participants agreed that it was time to do something about the staggering rates of teenage pregnancy, and the stigma young women face as a result.  The end products of the discussion became the radio drama, Asi Somo (How Are We?) and the 60 minute radio magazine program Acolitame (Cover Me.)   “I think the project that the youth are working on is really interesting because it means that in Puyango we are creating spaces where youth can broadcast their thoughts,” said Yelena Loján, a young resident. “I believe it is very effective when one young person speaks to another about sexuality, which, in our area, still carries a certain stigma,” she added.    As part of an overall capacity-building strategy, Radio Integracion and Media Impact have partnered with the Alamor Hospital, the Nature and Culture International, the local government’s Department of Environmental Management, the Department of Education and the Canton’s Council on Youth and Adolescents to create a program that includes opportunities for youth to learn about the issues of sexual and reproductive health as well as the skills needed to successfully communicate the topic through mass media.   During the present phase of the three-year program, more than 60 young people have participated in the radio broadcasting trainings, and another group of more than 100 are working on planning out community events to address both environmental and sexual and reproductive issues in the region. The potential audience for the program is 40,000.   “The execution of this project has allowed us to directly interact with hundreds of people,” said Radio Station Founder and Manager, Homar Rogel. “A new citizen identity is being created such that people are frequently accessing this medium to express their thoughts, denouncements, comments. It is generating a higher level of participation of new voices in the media.”    PCI-Media Impact and Radio Integracion’s program in Alamor, follows on the success of another radio campaign in Quito, Ecuador. Entre Botas, Asfalto y Rock and Roll, (Living Between Boots, the Street and Rock’n’Roll) was a radio campaign to promote sexual health education and increase acceptance of non-mainstream lifestyles and urban hip hop and punk cultures in Quito. The radio education campaign aimed to considerably decrease unwanted teen pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, particularly HIV/AIDS, discrimination against urban counter-cultures and endemic domestic violence.    Media Impact brought together youth groups and health service providers in Quito to work as a team in order to better understand each other and create sustainable solutions to problems faced by Ecuadorian youth.  Health professionals participated in the development of the radio drama and often appeared as guest speakers on the radio magazine. As a result, health service providers have eliminated intrusive registration processes and initiated an “anonymous registration” option at clinics which, in addition to other strategies, has encouraged youth to seek health services more regularly.   Acolitame is part of PCI-Media Impact’s My Community, a series of message-oriented, locally developed pro-social grassroots media programs throughout Latin America. With 25 years of experience in the field, Media Impact has long been at the vanguard of educational media. My Community represents its latest response to a pressing but often overlooked problem in international development: how to engage low-income communities in open discussions about crucial though sometimes controversial issues.   PCI8072