JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. successfully implemented the Together for Health for the U.S. Agency for International Development from 2005 to 2011. For further information on project activites, visit the TfH page on jsi.com.
Family Planning Film Engages Teens
March 2008 - Teenage audiences are notoriously hard to please, but Family from A to Z, an organization in Kharkiv City, Ukraine, creates programs about reproductive health and family planning that appeal to teens.
Young men visit a pharmacy in a scene from 'Plan Your Future.'
Family from A to Z was founded in 1995 by a television producer, Valentina Chichkun. After the birth of her daughter, Valentina decided to create a program about life as a new parent. The program grew to become Family A to Z, a nongovernmental organization that runs parenting classes, generates literature and produces television programs about social and family issues. When Together for Health (TfH), a USAID-funded effort to improve reproductive health in the Ukraine, solicited bids from local organizations, Family A to Z applied and won a grant to produce a short film about reproductive health and family planning for teens.
'Plan Your Future' was written by a professional screen writer and edited by a team of family planning/reproductive health specialists. The story follows a young couple as they fall in love and deal with issues of sexuality. The audience learns with the couple as each contraceptive method is animated and explained by psychologists and gynecologists. These local writers and producers were able to accurately and appropriately address adolescent sexuality while also creating a story that appeals to teenagers.
Family from A to Z also understands that film had a unique ability to convey messages about issues that can be difficult to discuss in person. As Project Director Natalia Malikova explained, "Teenagers are often uncomfortable discussing sexuality with their parents or doctors. This film gives them the information they need in a format they can relate to." She hopes that, after watching the film, young people will feel a little more comfortable discussing these issues with their friends, partners, and families.
Family from A to Z worked with education officials, school principals, and a team of university student volunteers to show 'Plan Your Future' in health education classes in Kharkiv's secondary schools. Together for Health trained educators and school psychologists to lead discussions about adolescent sexuality with the students after the film. More than 35 principals have requested screenings of 'Plan Your Future,' which features local students as actors and has been well-received by its intended audience. At the end of one screening, for example, a male student said, "I thought I knew almost everything about contraceptives but after the film and discussion, I realized what safe behavior means for health and how risky my own actions were. Now I know much more and I am going to be very careful!"
'Plan Your Future' has aired on 26 local and national television channels, and has been distributed to educators, NGOs, and schools throughout Ukraine. The film has had the effect that Family from A to Z intended: it has opened up a national discussion among teenagers about adolescent sexuality and effective contraceptive methods. And the lasting nature of film is not lost on Malikova. "Even after this project is over," she explains, "the film will still be around and we will still show it."
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