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Projects

Straight Talk Newspapers

Specifically, the Straight Talk Newspaper is produced by and for young people ages 15 to 19. The paper is published in Sheng, a popular patois of KiSwahili and English, and addresses topics generally not found in daily newspapers, such as sexual abuse, pregnancy, homosexuality, masturbation and gender inequality. Personal reflections – e.g., whether or not to disclose an episode of sexual abuse to one’s family and/or to get tested to find out whether HIV/AIDS was contracted as a result – are also incorporated into the newspaper’s articles, columns, question-and-answer interviews, and cartoons. The paper’s “Please Advise” column enables adolescents to respond to questions from their peers. We seek to empower the students themselves to raise as many questions as possible. Each quarter, about 20,000 copies of the newspaper are produced, 7,000 of which are inserted in issues of The County Review, a popular regional newspaper newspaper with circulation in Mt Kenya, Mombasa and Nyanza. (STFK distributes the remaining 13,000 copies through schools, youth-serving organisations, and partners). Archived issues of the newsletter may be accessed on the Straight Talk website.

Straight Talk Clubs

Straight Talk Clubs, each with an average of 35 students, aim to help improve adolescent health by fostering peer-to-peer discussion of HIV, by encouraging youth to share opinions about and experiences with confronting high-risk situations, and by helping them develop behaviour-negotiation skills through role-playing activities. Hosted within schools across the country, Straight Talk Clubs discuss issues raised in the newspaper, hear guest speakers, visit health centres and the disabled, and engage in community service projects. One goal is to increase dialogue between adolescents and teachers, and between adolescents and their parents.

Straight Talk has developed a training programme to prepare teachers and youth workers who run the Straight Talk Clubs to handle adolescents’ sexuality and reproductive health concerns with sensitivity. The training format is a 2-week class on group management and facilitation that includes peer education and HIV information.

Straight Talk Radio

To reinforce the messages shared through the Straight Talk newspapers and the clubs, a 30-minute radio programme is broadcast through institutional radio stations (KU FM and MMU) on Saturday mornings from 11-11:30 a.m. The theme and focus of the programme is determined by the adolescent editorial board. The programme emphasizes first-hand opinions and experiences of adolescents and introduces role-playing scenarios.

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