Since the passing of my friend and mentor Professor David Morley (co-founder of The Child-to-Child Trust) and to honour his memory, I've been working slowly at a project about using the mobile phone and the social media to promote children's participation in health. The project is in it's early stages but growing legs!
In a nutshell... for some decades it's been recognised that children in developing countries should not just be viewed as beneficiaries of health initiatives. They are also potentially agents of change themselves.
And a LOT can be done to improve health just with information. Children can be taught essential health messages at school and bring that knowledge home and to their communities. For example, in an area where there are malaria mosquitoes, a child might ensure their younger sibling is sleeping under a bednet and tuck in the bednets to keep their sibling safe. Anyone who has been around primary school age children knows how much children love to collect things (think scouts and badges) and why not a collection of 100 messages and actions! Its also important that we recognise and praise what children are already doing to keep themselves and each other safe and well.
A team of medical students at Cambridge University are helping me assemble the first '100' messages for health experts to assess and approve. There are 10 key messages in 10 key areas of health =100 messages in all. The messages are created in a pithy, short form suitable for delivery by SMS. The messages could be used as they are (probably translated first) or they might be adapted and translated using a more involved process.
The idea too is that each health message links back to a collection of on-line resources (like photos, pictures and even videos) that can be used with children to stimulate and discuss the different topics – so these messages, which are oriented towards children, are also really designed to be delivered to parents and people who work with children. It's the adults or the youth who are more likely to have access to phones etc.
If you are involved with a health education programme and like this idea then do let me know and we can start a discussion on how to take it forward and test out this idea with the help of the children, parents and educators you know.
Together, let's make children advocates FOR health and let's let no child die from a lack of information.
If you can please join the discussion group, Children For Health on Linked in.