Grantees in the Pacific Islands and Hawaii participated in a cluster call on April 14 to connect and dialogue with each other on how to deliver culturally relevant healthy relationship education.
Although many grantees previously reported that their communities were seeing the COVID-19 curve flatten, they were still adapting to the effects of school closings, declared states of emergency, and lack of internet access among students. As such, much of the hour-long discussion focused on ongoing obstacles to program delivery, how grantees were addressing these obstacles, and their current successes amid challenging times.
Grantees acknowledged the difficulty of keeping youth engaged when program activities can no longer convene in traditional in-person settings. The majority of grantees have explored various conferencing platforms to create virtual environments that support face-to-face engagement. In some instances, youth have been incentivized to participate in virtual activities with gift cards and other prizes. One grantee teamed with their school system so that buses with internet access can visit villages where students live, circumventing the very real challenge of limited or no internet access among program youth.
The cluster call concluded with a robust discussion on the importance of culturally relevant messaging around healthy relationships. Participants shared many strategies; three that stood out integrated creative elements and youth leadership. One grantee recommended encouraging students to produce, film, and edit their videos. This ensures that the youth voice is central to the messaging. This same grantee won two Excellence Awards for youth-created videos. Moreover, these videos are being used in a case study on health education for indigenous peoples. Other key strategies included encouraging and training outstanding graduates of programs to return and co-facilitate program activities and creating a youth leadership team to offer input to program facilitators on how they can improve program components from a youth perspective.