It's a great way to spread AIDS awareness among children.
About 200 children from across the country have piggybacked their message of HIV/AIDS on various entertainment media including special computer games, cartoons, puppet shows and animation films.
Children from Delhi, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh along with NGO Plan India have designed this children-friendly HIV/AIDS Awareness Package (HAAP).
On Thursday, 1000 HAAP kits were unveiled and distributed to about 100 Maharashtra-based NGOs who will incorporate them in their community activities.
Plan India anchored the entire project with funding from the Department for International Development.
The target audience is clear — children who have no clue about the deadly virus. "Once children get an idea of the seriousness of the disease through the HAAP, they are bound to carry forward the message to their family," said Bhagyashri Dengle, Director, Plan India. The project involved schoolgoing as well as non-school going children, some of whom were also victims of the virus, she added.
The HAAP kit contains an animation film titled Badalti Soch, which talks about peer pressure and discrimination towards HIV/AIDS patients. It also contains a computer game with seven different scenarios dealing with aspects like facilities available, support services and positive living for patients. The kits also have ready-for-use puppetry show equipment, which includes a cassette containing background music and dialogues along with the puppets.
"I have learnt about the disease while working in this programme and want to reduce every bit of stigma attached to it," said Rakesh (13), a Class VII student of DN Nagar School, Andheri who could easily teach an adult a thing or two about AIDS.
His sister Kanchan (14), who also participated in the programme, is often asked by teachers to educate her friends in class as well. "My friends don't like talking about HIV/AIDS but they lend an ear if I insist. So they at least know something about it if not everything," she said.
Manoj (17) loves reading comics and preferred to learn how to make one in the project. "It taught me what goes behind a comic and also a lot about HIV/AIDS," he said.
The HAAP has been developed in Hindi, Telugu, Kannada and English. After Maharashtra, the kits will be distributed among NGOs in other states.