COVID-19 inspires new approach to reaching young people during lockdown

Executive Director

Provision of sexual and reproductive healthcare for all, regardless of age, is at the core of Famia Planea Aruba’s (FPA) work. Over the years FPA has developed different information packages specifically aimed at reaching and supporting young people, families, and educators.  

The inspiration for delivering comprehensive sexuality education digitally to young people was propelled by the COVID-19 lockdown. Like other frontline healthcare providers, FPA was faced with unforeseen challenges about how to continue reaching their communities. Undeterred, the team embraced the challenge to create, develop, and launch FPA’s first Online Puberty Educational News Program (OPEN).  

Staff
Evelyn Yarzagaray, FPA’s Executive Director, with her team. 

Responding to clients' needs digitally 

“In the last few years, FPA’s in-school Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) program was growing rapidly, and then all of a sudden we hit a wall; our Island was in complete lockdown and all schools were closed. At first, we were very sad, since we were fully booked for the upcoming few months, and would lose the opportunity to reach thousands of young people”, says Evelyn Yarzagaray, FPA’s Executive Director.  

Typically, during April and May FPA usually focuses on students between the ages of 11 and 13 and supporting with the transition from elementary school to secondary school. At this age young people are starting to experience changes to their bodies and hormones.  

“We were all of a sudden bombarded with parents who started requesting one-on-one counselling sessions for their kids, but due to safety regulations this was not an easy option. That was when we started looking for a way to reach both parent and child in the safety of their own homes. By converting materials used during our in-person CSE program, we developed an educational video that can be viewed by both parent and child”, says Evelyn. 

The OPEN platform has been designed with a colourful background, emojis, and animation to appeal to its target audience. Users can access valuable information through the FAQ section, international news, and video content such as an interview with a Family Physician.  

“The filming and editing were the longest and most difficult part of the entire process, but once it was launched, we immediately saw that is was completely worth it, reaching over 42,000 people on social media”, Evelyn says. 

“I know it's all part of the growing up process” 

Jeanira, 37, is a doctor’s assistant and has two young children aged two and 12. She has been a member of FPA for many years, but only recently learned that FPA provides healthcare for all ages and stages of life – particularly young people.  

“About a year ago I had begun researching the best way and time to start talking to my daughter about her upcoming body changes, sexuality, and puberty in general”, explains Jeanira. 

It was a family member who suggested the FPA video on social media about puberty that was in Jeanira’s native language.  

“The video is fun, educational, featured local professionals and related to my daughter’s age. I love the fact that I could introduce the video to her and let her watch it in her own comfort zone. At the end, it did stimulate conversations and questions for a few days after and it truly made it easier for us to talk about some of the topics that can sometimes be a little hard to approach”, says Jeanira. 

Client.
Jeanira and her daughter, Xiqiën, explore FPA's online materials. 

11-year-old Xiqiën really enjoyed the video: “My favourite part was to be able to recognize some changes that I am going through right now. There are some changes that I would like to skip but I know it’s all part of the growing up process. I’m so thankful that FPA had the idea to make such a fun video for us to learn from. There was some stuff that I already knew, but I also learned some new things. I did ask my mom a lot of questions after the video, mostly because they said that everyone is different, and I really wanted to know how my mom is different from me. I don’t feel quite as worried to talk to my mom about these things anymore, I know that she will try to help.”