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The Ashe Company: Edutainment Initiative

The Ashe Company (formerly The Ashe Performing Arts Company) has developed a social and behaviour change communication methodology designed to empower Jamaican youth to make their own decisions about living a healthy lifestyle and creating a healthy environment within their communities.

Communication Strategies: 

Ashe's model is culture-based, coming from the African tradition of using the arts as a developmental tool to stimulate youth from the entry point of the expressions they are already engaged in, such as: dance, drama, music, sports, and storytelling. Ashe uses these expressions to further the mission of meaningful participation and interaction in workshops and performing arts sessions/programmes that combine recreation and skills-building. The Ashe methodology has 3 components:

  1. The Multi-layered Approach - Ashe sees youth at the focal point of a cascade of concentric circles, with parents, teachers, and community leaders forming the expanding circles around them. What this means is that everybody has the same vision and is sending the same message to the youth. The youth themselves are also involved and are part of the process of the healthy development of their own lifestyles and communities.
  2. EIC Edutainment Model: E = Excitement. Participants are excited by participation in edutainment musical theatre performances; incentives (to travel and perform); music videos; and, in general, learning through use of culture and the arts. I = Involvement. Participants are involved by being part of the interactive learning sessions, whether during a one-day workshop or over an extended period. The approach is participatory. The involvement process includes: brainstorming; group discussions; role-playing; rap sessions; research; and sporting and performing arts classes. The idea is that the more involved they are, the more clearly they feel the impact of experience and explore their own integrity, principles, and values. Solutions are discovered together. C = Commitment. Commitment takes place when youth are empowered to make choices and decisions and they do so in relation to social issues that are dealt with in the programme (e.g., HIV/AIDS - they choose to abstain, reclaim their virginity, protect themselves, etc.) The youth make commitments not just for personal health and lifestyle but also for their families, the community, the country, and the world.
  3. Transformational Model - This is based on the image of people moving from the stage of 'caterpillar' to that of a 'butterfly.' It is about letting go of the old way of being and creating a new way that is healthy and beneficial for all. There are 3 basic stages: i) Recognition (participants come to an awareness of their own spiritual values and principles and look at issues of integrity. They also come to align themselves with a higher concept of life and way of being). ii) Die to the Old (participants give up negative stereotypes about themselves and others through forgiveness and other techniques). iii) Be Born Anew (participants fulfill the mandate that Ashe has as its mission - 'to live a life of integrity and fulfillment, doing what they love and loving what they do.'

 

 

For example, "Curfew for Schools" is an edutainment theatre production, enhanced by one-on-one discussions, that addresses the rights of young people; their civic responsibilities in the fight against corruption, crime, and violence; and ways to effectively engage them in problem solving techniques and anger management skills. The musical portrays a Jamaican community in a state of siege as a result of a curfew placed to control an eruption of violence. In the face of longstanding social disorder, members of the community struggle to create peace and find balance, using all the means at their disposal.

 

As part of an effort to empower students in 30 high schools to develop positive alternatives to anger and violence using the performing arts, the company journeyed (January 6-9 2010) to the island of St. Eustatius via St Maarten, all clad in brightly coloured red or blue Ashe/edutainment t-shirts. The 16 member crew, selected from the company comprised of past and present members, brought across key messages through singing, dancing, and acting - stressing to students and parents alike the importance of making safe choices, abstaining, positive parenting, etc.

 

Specifically, the edutainment package included, first, "Parenting Vibes in a World of Sexuality". Parents came out to see the production, which focuses on using positive parenting tools (communication, discipline, knowledge) instead of negative parenting tools (preaching, mixed messages, corporal punishment). After the production, Ashe's Executive Artistic Director launched a discussion with the parents about what the musical portrayed. Some of the parents even admitted that they were guilty of practicing some of the negative parenting tools. The next show was a back-to-back performance of "Safe Stupid or What!", a talk-show-like musical about making safe reproductive health choices. Ashe performed it twice to an audience of students: both a primary school audience and a group of older students (high school). With the latter group, there was a sense of prevalence of the issues portrayed, so the discussion following the performance was more colourful. "Safe, Stupid or What" formed part of the company's annual Season of Excellence, which opened in October 2010. Then, it was taken to schools as a part of an intervention which also included several follow-up visits and one-on-one sessions with students to discuss the various issues in the musical and to help students use song, dance, and drama to develop and portray messages relevant to them and their peers on the issues of reproductive health and sexuality, with a particular focus on HIV/AIDS.

Development Issues: 

Youth, Sexual and Reproductive Health, HIV/AIDS, Governance.

Key Points: 

Ashe is a Yoruba word used in Western Africa spirituality that means "the strength, the power and the God within." Launched in 1993, Ashe is a non-governmental professional edutainment and theatre arts company that is committed to the preservation and renewal of Jamaican and Afro-Caribbean culture. The Ashe Company is the umbrella organisation for:

  • The Ashe Performing Arts Ensemble, which consists of a full-time cast of professional artists who provide entertainment and edutainment presentation services, locally and around the world. Their work entails self-development and transformation, advanced training in the performing arts, creation and performance of edutainment musicals and products, choreography, scriptwriting, and teaching and project implementation at The Ashe Academy and The Ashe Edutainment Institute.
  • The Ashe Academy, which offers training in singing, dancing, acting, and drumming to new generations of performers and artistes. Ultimately, The Academy will take the form of a private secondary educational institution, preparing students for regional and international examinations, as well as theatre arts and edutainment education, utilising Ashe's EIC methodology in the classroom.
  • The Ashe Edutainment Institute, which provides certified edutainment training, consultancy, project management, implementation, and social intervention training services. The Institute operates under the principles of Ashe's edutainment methodology, dubbed the EIC methodology.
Contact Information: 
See video
Source: 

Emails from Conroy B. Wilson to Soul Beat Africa and The Communication Initiative on March 10 2010 and July 22 2010, respectively; Ashe Performing Arts Company website, April 6 2010; and email from Jomain McKenzie to The Communication Initiative on October 22 2012.

The Evaluation of Guidance Counselor Training for Vibes

Publication Date
May 12, 2005

Carried out by Family Health International (FHI) and Hope Enterprises, Inc., this evaluation explores the "Vibes" methodology as introduced in September 2001 to 108 guidance counsellors w

Contact Information: 
Source: 

Email from Conroy B. Wilson to Soul Beat Africa on March 10 2010; and Ashe Performing Arts Company website and FHI website, both accessed April 6 2010.

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Qualitative Assessment of Outta Road, an Entertainment-Education Radio Soap Opera for Jamaican Adolescents

Author: 
Scott Connolly
Katie Elmore
Wendi Stein
Publication Date
August 1, 2008
Affiliation: 

Population Media Center (PMC)

Source: 

PMC website, accessed September 23 2009.

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Outta Road

Communication Strategies: 

Outta Road is the story of Jamaican teens and young adults from different social strata whose lives are interconnected. The drama is designed for 10-19 year olds across Jamaica, who through identification with transitional characters could vicariously experience the repercussions of their life choices. The social ills identified through nationwide formative research conducted by PMC in January 2006 helped guide the development of characters and plot lines. The characters grapple with conflicts ranging from love, friendship, peer pressure, violence, sex, drugs, HIV/AIDS, and more. Interspersed amongst dramatic conflicts and natural dialogue was popular reggae music. Outta Road also used epilogues to provide listeners with more information about the topics addressed and issues raised, such as where to access adolescent-friendly centres offering services like substance abuse counselling, HIV testing and contraception, and dispute resolution.

 

The messages in Outta Road, some episodes of which may be listened to online, were reinforced by flyers, pamphlets, handbooks, and good parenting calendars distributed by JA-STYLE to encourage further discussion among listeners. This supplemental information, what PMC refers to as the Whole Society Strategy, helped to reinforce lessons learned through the programme and provided another platform for discussion. Also, listening groups were established in schools as a part of the guidance curriculum. Youth listened to the programmes in a classroom setting and were also given CDs to bring home to listen to and share with their friends. Guidance counsellors used the programme as a stimulus for discussion about the difficult and highly sensitive issues addressed in Outta Road.

Development Issues: 

Youth, HIV/AIDS, Relationships, Substance Abuse.

Key Points: 

A quantitative evaluation conducted at the conclusion of the programme found that:

  • 31% of the adolescents surveyed had heard of Outta Road.
  • 32% of listeners had discussed the Outta Road drama with friends.
  • 56% of listeners were motivated by Outta Road to seek healthy lifestyles services (e.g., those related to reproductive health, substance abuse, parenting, parent-child relationships, sexuality, and conflict resolution).

 

In April 2008, PMC also conducted a qualitative assessment of Outta Road; click here to access that report in PDF format.

Partner Text: 

PMC, URC, and JA-STYLE.

See video
Source: 

Outta Road description [PDF], PMC, August 2008.

Survey of ICT and Education in the Caribbean: Volume 1 - Regional Trends and Analysis; Volume 2 - Country Reports

Publication Date
January 1, 2009

This Survey of ICT and Education in the Caribbean: Volume 1 - Regional Trends and Analysis; Volume 2 - Country Reports comprises 16 country reports, primarily Small Islands Developing States (SIDS), that provide an overview of the current activities and developments related to information and communication technology (ICT) use in education in each country.

Source: 

infoDev website on March 3 2009.

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An Election Handbook for Caribbean Journalists

Author: 
Lennox Grant, ed.
Wesley Gibbings, ed.
Publication Date
Publication Date: 
September 1, 2009

From the Foreword: "This Handbook is part of an attempt to enhance the quality of media reportage of elections in the English-speaking Caribbean.

Number of Pages: 

82

Source: 

Email from Wesley Gibbings to The Communication Initiative on September 22 and December 20 2009.

Mainstreaming Adaptation to Climate Change (MACC) Project: Climate Change Handbook for Caribbean Journalists

Subtitle: 
A Handbook for Concepts and Issues in Climate Change: Global and Regional Perspectives
Publication Date
Publication Date: 
August 1, 2005

According to the Association of Caribbean MediaWorkers (ACM), the purpose of this handbook is to inform, educate, and support Caribbean journalists to explain the possible effects of climate chang

Number of Pages: 

72

Source: 

ACM website, accessed on January 4 2010.

Early Sexual Debut, Sexual Violence, and Sexual Risk-Taking among Pregnant Adolescents and Their Peers in Jamaica and Uganda

Author: 
Maxine Wedderburn
Jennifer Wagman
Cynthia Waszak Geary
Joy Noel Baumgartner
Heidi Toms Tucker
Laura Johnson
Publication Date
December 1, 2008
Affiliation: 

Hope Enterprises - Jamaica (Wedderburn), Rakai Health Sciences Program - Uganda (Wagman), FHI, Research - North Carolina, US (Waszak Geary, Baumgartner, Toms Tucker, Johnson)

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