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Reaching Adolescents

Reaching Adolescents

Posted by atavares on 7 Nov 2012


I am trying to design a program to reach out of school adolescents with nutrition messaging inside a larger food security program.  The conservation agriculture and mothers' groups just do not seem to entice them for some reason ;)  Does anyone have resources or programmatic experience on how exactly to reach these youth? 

Thanks in advance,

Reaching Adolescents

Posted by mdecoster on 7 Nov 2012

Hi Angie,

BRAC is doing some interesting work with adolescents, you might get some ideas from them, and be able to include nutrition messages.

Your question also got me thinking about a cooking club -- they could have a variety of activities like practicing preparing and taste-testing new foods, song writing contests (the best ones to go on the radio if possible) with nutrition messages, having a cooking contest to develop recipes using nutritious foods, and preparing and selling healthy treats like cookies (biscuits) made from oranged fleshed sweet potatoes and peanuts.  It really works to have creative, fun and purposeful group activities to engage adolescents.

And, how about having the youth carry out a barrier analysis on some key nutrition practices you want to promote in the wider community.  They'd be able to help their community and learn a lot about nutrition and how to promote behavior change.  Young people are often best reached through providing them with an opportunity to help others.

I'll look forward to hearing what others share, and please let us know what you come up with! 

best wishes,


Reaching Adolescents

Posted by joanwhelan on 28 Nov 2012

Angie and other NALAN colleagues,

I'm late to this discussion, but read the query with interest and did reach out today to a colleague at Save the Children, Beth Outterson, who is a specialist in reaching adolescents. She had the following response. Hope this is some additional helpful insight:


From Beth:

Thanks for passing on this interesting inquiry. I think the key is finding where youth congregate and which groups they participate in already, and approach them with nutrition information, events and fun learning activities. For me at SC this is a rather simple question since we generally reach both in and out of school adolescents with approaches that are non-formal. (This is because there is little to no time in the school schedule to add in additional information within the existing curriculum. There are a few exceptions to this however.) By non-formal we mean after school or evening or weekend activities. These sometimes take place on school grounds, but not always. Here are some examples:

1)      In Bangladesh we have adolescent learning centers (ALCs) which we have established at the community level. This is a room in someone’s home that has been provided for community use for adolescent meetings with a facilitator. We have them separate for boys and girls, and we follow a curriculum. It would be very easy to add in nutrition messages in this venue. In fact we talk about food groups but not in great depth. This is an area we would like to strengthen especially since there is such a high rate of anemia amongst girls in Bangladesh.

2)      In Bolivia we have “youth zones” where young people can congregate and learn about reproductive and sexual health and also get training to become a peer educator. Youth zones are usually a physical space inside or attached to a health center. Peer educators learn “replicas” or health education sessions which they impart in a participatory fashion in local universities, community groups or other places. Any topic can be added as long as it is interesting for youth –so why not nutrition?

3)      In numerous countries we have teen mothers groups where girls can share with each other while learning about their health and their babies’ health as well as about family planning. So this is also a perfect setting for talking about nutrition.

4)      In Malawi we also have “Male motivators” who are young men who have sought family planning with their wives who then go and encourage other men to be involved in FP with their wives. Why not have a similar idea with nutrition? You could have women who have learned about nutrition encourage young couples to come to community groups/clubs to learn about healthy foods for their family. You could entice them with food demos and taste testing!

5)      In rural Philippines youth gather on Saturdays to study for their high school or primary school equivalency test. You often have young mothers who come with their children. This is a perfect captive audience. In urban areas the scenario is within specific vocational schools, but SC works with them to provide life skills as well, so nutrition fits right in with this!

I have many more ideas that I would be willing to discuss but the basic first step is to do a mapping of where youth are already congregating in the community. Sports is a great convener so see if there are youth sports clubs where you could go and share your important messages.

End of message from Beth.

Good luck!


Have you reached out to the target group about their interests?

Posted by ktabaj on 29 Nov 2012

Hi Angie,

I don't have any immediate answers for you, but I'm curious if you've done some analysis (maybe some survey or focus group work) and asking about their interests. 

Kristi Tabaj

Advisor, Gender and Livelihoods


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