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Zika Education Using Costumes & Fun Models

Interactive, relatable models can impart valuable prevention and awareness lessons to the public.

Photo of Alisa Ahmadian

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Theater, dance, costumes, dioramas, Zika, HIV. On the surface, it may seem that some of these things are not like the others, however, theater and fun interactive activities can serve as powerful tools for outreach and education when it comes to Zika awareness. 

Recently during Brazil's Carnival festival, activists took to the streets dressed in mosquito costumes-- rather than the traditional costumes made of jewels and feathers-- to get out of the word about disease prevention (as documented by this NPR article: http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2016/02/04/465458892/carnival-gives-brazil-ideas-about-how-to-fight-zika). A group of teens also marched in the Carnival crowd passing out condoms and singing a song to go along, doubly helping to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDs and Zika during the country's prime party season.

These forms of fun, relatable public outreach and awareness programs are not new to the recent Zika outbreak. There are countless of global examples of groups utilizing the arts and playful techniques to engage communities in a real conversation about disease prevention. Wise Up, a theater program developed by UNICEF in Botswana, employs high-school aged children to perform 20-minute plays to teach audiences about HIV/AIds transmission. The result? "When a play is performed by a local drama group for a local audience in a local language, it has the ability to reach an audience member with a particular message that can have a lasting impact." (Read more: http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/botswana_71280.html)

How can we build in playfulness and art into the fight to prevent Zika?

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Photo of Deborah Nyambu

Very true Alisa!  This kind of learning has a great impact to the community as well as to the children taking part in the plays and activities.  They will never forget the message!

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