Three organizations; WEB Foundation, Leti Arts and the Youth Advocates Ghana, are collaborating to address the adolescent sexual and reproductive health issues in the country.
Through a newly launched mobile game application titled ‘My jolley’, they seek to inform young people about reproductive health.
The first chapter of the game themed, “How far will you go to take it all back”, is designed to help young people make right decisions on reproductive health that will help avert unsafe abortions among other things.
Madam Geertje Posta, Executive Director of WEB Foundation, initiators of the project, at the launch of the first chapter of the game, said young people spent increasingly more time on their cell phones and traditional ways of education will not achieve the desired results.
The game addresses the central issue of unsafe abortions, one of most pressing challenges affecting young people in Ghana identified in field research conducted by the three partners prior to the development of the game.
Other issues identified and which will be addressed in future chapters of the game, are teenage pregnancy, transactional sex, and consent.
“Perhaps we can be the pioneers in this way or trying to reach young people with important messages like the messages in our game; on sexual and reproductive health and rights”, she said, adding, “kids are finding new ways to get their information and news ways to spend their free time and meet other people”.
Mr Eyram Akofa Tawia, Chief Executive Officer of Leti Arts, technical implementors of the project, said the game was designed to start at the end of a story and tasks targeted players; between the ages of 12 and 21 years, to undo decisions that led the main character to the catastrophic end for which they are in court.
He said although games were very effective in advocacy campaigns globally, the sector was very nascent in Africa, making it a big challenge to convince institutions to build games instead putting up billboards.
Mr Tawia said while the culture of gaming was disregarded or seen as unserious in Ghana, it was a viable sector and was effective due its story-telling, challenge and interactive nature.
The ‘My Jorley game’ is currently only compatible with Android smart phones.
Mr Ger J. Steenbergen, First Secretary, Health, of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, said the Kingdom of the Netherlands funded the project because they believed youth in the country had the right to know what sexuality was all about and how to be safe, which had been lacking in the country.
“The youth have been marginalised and so we have been trying to support organisations on how to reach young people and speak to them to help them develop into mature healthy persons” he said, adding that the game was something that young people will accept and respond to.
Mr Steenbergen said while there was some statistics on unsafe abortions in the country, they were not very reliable due to the taboo surrounding the issue which did not allow many young people involved to talk about it.
He said the Embassy was funding the project to the tune of a 100,000 Euros and stressed the involvement of the youth in the development of the project.
The project also trained youth on film making using their smartphones and incorporated the films produced by the young people into the game.
“By doing this, we also want to introduce young people into a new game industry because that is going to a new way of entrepreneurship”, he said.