|Outreach No. 96 - Children in Especially Difficult Circumstances - Part 1: Working and Street Children (New York University - TVE - UNEP - WWF, 68 p.)|
Street Kids International
If reproduced, please credit original source.
SUGGESTIONS FOR USE
street educators, community workers, teachers: To show to - and discuss with - street children.
On the streets of the world's cities, children are vulnerable to a variety of health problems, and over the last decade, HIV/AIDS has been added to the list. The animated action-adventure video Karate Kids is part of a cross-cultural HIV/AIDS education programme for street children developed by Street Kids International (SKI) in cooperation with the World Health Organization, the National Film Board of Canada and many other partners. Created to fulfill the need for simple, explicit AIDS health education for street youth in the developing world, the cartoon is now distributed in twenty languages, being used by educators in over 100 countries.
The package includes the 22-minute karate adventure cartoon on video, a training book for educators, and a pocket comic book. Karate Kids is shown in community centres, in theatres, on the back of trucks, in hospitals, schools and prisons. In Thailand alone 3,500 copies of the cartoon are in distribution, and 2,500 street workers have been trained by the Thai Red Cross to use the cartoon in a group discussion.
As Karate Kids is distributed primarily in video format, it is easily copied - which is encouraged. An advantage of the cross-cultural format established by Karate Kids is that it can be easily adapted to new language versions, independent of the original producers.
After three years in distribution, field evaluation has shown that the greatest strength of the Karate Kids video is that it stimulates discussion, often where no discussion was taking place before. Educators in Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Tanzania and Thailand report that the cartoon Stimulates lively dialogue about sexual health, street life and AIDS, often for the first time. CARE workers in Ethiopia report, for example, that viewers are willing to participate in a condom demonstration after seeing the cartoon. Since the material is explicit, it is most useful in the hands of educators who are comfortable with the subject matter.
Karate Kids has provoked some criticism, first, from authorities who do not accept the need for this kind of sex education for youth, and second, from people who feel that it should stand alone as a comprehensive AIDS education lecture on video. One evaluation study of the immediate impact of the cartoon on knowledge and attitudes of children indicates that Karate Kids alone does not provide a complete AIDS education lesson. On the other hand, a cross-cultural Participatory Evaluation Survey indicates that significant impact on knowledge is achieved when there is opportunity for a discussion after the showing of the video.
A subtle but significant contribution of this project to development communications is not only that it teaches street kids things that they need to know, but it treats them with respect, in a voice that they can relate to on their own terms. Watching Karate Kids, street children see themselves on television for the first time. The characters in the cartoon have dignity, they take care of themselves and their friends, and they have personal power to met the challenges of the street. The cartoon acknowledges street children as actors rather than victims, with legitimate needs and rights, rendering them visible in a world that too often ignores them.
Karate Kids Two
With the international success of Karate Kids, Street Kids International has been encouraged to produce a second cartoon. Karate Kids Two (Karate kids and the Big Fire) is about substance abuse.
Youth substance abuse and particularly inhalant use - sniffing things like glue, gasoline or spray paint - is a major health problem shared by children all over the world. There is a great need for a new tool that can help youth workers talk to kids about drugs in a constructive way.
From early 1993, SKI field-tested story ideas with street kids, youth workers and consultants in several countries. It became apparent that Karate Hero's advice about inhalants and drugs had to be rooted in his own experience. Kids often use drugs to feel better. They need to know that Karate has been there, too, and that he understands how hard their lives are, and they want to know how he survived to become the street leader they look up to.
So the new Karate Kids Two cartoon tells Karate Hero's story - how, when he was young, he and his sister Nina got involved with sniffing solvents and using other drugs on the street. The story emphasises the rewards of friendship, self-respect and life skills in contrast to the powerful but potentially self-destructive comforts of substance abuse.
The cartoon has been created by the same team that made the first Karate Kids adventure - director Derek Lamb, animator Kai Pindal and Producer Christopher Lowry with support from SKI director, Peter Dalglish. Funded by the Health and Welfare Canada Partners for Children Fund, Swedish Save the Children, the Government of the Netherlands and other donors, the cartoon is directed at boys and girls aged eight to fourteen, and will be available to community-based youth workers worldwide in fifteen languages in 1994.
For more information on Karate Kids contact Street Kids International, Karate Kids Distribution at the address above.