Adolescents use smartphones to map and change their community
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17 year old Daniela is somewhat of an expert on HIV/AIDS. She knows how the disease is transmitted and how to protect herself, and she shares this information with her friends.
Daniela is one of 24 adolescents from the vulnerable neighbourhoods of Cité Plus and Village de Dieu in Port au Prince to have participated in the Voices of Youth Maps initiative. The adolescents mapped HIV risk and vulnerability catalysts in their communities, using smartphones to record the geo-location of health and sanitation concerns, medical infrastructures and unsafe zones. Through geo-located photos and videos organized into thematic digital maps, a real-time portrait of their communities was developed.
Daniela identified an abandoned house littered with garbage and used condoms as an unsafe zone. “Girls in our community are particularly at risk of sexual assault when they have to walk a long way through dark corridors to go to the toilet”, she says.
She explains that the training provided her with knowledge on HIV/AIDS and skills she could now use to empower other young people and advocate for positive change in her community.
“I learned a lot about HIV and the different risk factors,” she says, “but I also learned how to use GPS and mobile technology to report on pertinent issues, and to most importantly represent other youth.”
Voices of Youth Maps empowers its participants by enhancing their knowledge, skills and capacity, and provides young people with resources and digital tools to encourage activism and action-taking within their communities.