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ADAPTING AMAZE FOR SOUTH AFRICA
In 2017, Marie Stopes International began the process of adapting the very successful AMAZE U.S. initiative for use in South Africa, led by the local program Marie Stopes South Africa. The goal of the project is to provide very young adolescents with web-based materials that offer positive, comprehensive, age-appropriate, accurate, and engaging sexual health information.
To make sure the content was relevant for young South Africans, Marie Stopes South Africa conducted focus groups with young people age 10 to 14, parents and educators to select the videos to be adapted as well key topics to inform a homegrown video written, animated and voiced in South Africa.
Scripts and supporting content were reviewed by a number of advisory partners from the sexual health and education sectors, who provided generous feedback that ensured the content was aligned with South Africa culture, policies, laws and clinical practices.
Working together with the TVSMITHS and a team of energetic young scriptwriters, animators and voiceover artists, Marie Stopes South Africa created the 11-part AMAZE SA video series, which went live in South Africa in three languages to start (English, Xhosa and Afrikaans) on November 1, 2017.
The local campaign has also included a travelling theatrical roadshow to partner schools in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape, starring the actors who voiced the animations and involves a vibrant social media presence to ensure the videos reach as many young people as possible.
All of the U.S. videos are also available on the South African site to provide as much fun and educational information as possible. We will continue to work with our partners in the U.S. and with local partners and animators here in South Africa to create additional content for very young adolescents and to make these resources available via website and You Tube, for young people, their parents and educators to use.
CREATING AMAZE: THE U.S. INITIATIVE
In 2015, Advocates for Youth, Answer and Youth Tech Health formed a partnership to understand and meet the needs of young adolescents for web-based materials that provide positive, comprehensive, accurate and engaging sexual health information. Focus groups confirmed the need for such resources and confirmed that, having been brought up in an age of sophisticated technology and edgy media, any successful product would have to be very creative.
After evaluating feedback from young people across the U.S., the partners developed two tracks for content development. For one track, the group worked with some of the best animation students or graduates from five of the top design schools in the country. These young animators are producing creative, edgy youth-driven content covering a variety of narrow or wide-ranging topics. Each animator receives background information and a mentor from one of our partner organizations who assures the material is accurate and age appropriate.
For the other content development track, we are working with The Moving Company, an Israel-based animation studio. They are producing a video series, called “Jane’s Blog,” featuring more traditional educational videos that cover a set of topics in more detail.
Do we have the right formula?…We hope so, but the product is under constant review by the most critical evaluators possible—the youth themselves, as well as parents and educators. Only the best animations are posted. We expect to eventually update all our videos simply because our audience changes over every four years. AMAZE is 21st century sex education for 21st century youth.
To read more about the U.S. version of AMAZE click here.