Telenovela for Teens!

Year: 2010
Country: Dominican Republic
Project Status: Funded
Impact Sector: Education
Project Investment: $496.00

Project Launch:

Janico is a small town in the Dominican Republic that suffers from high rates of teen pregnancy, substance abuse, and school dropouts. Youth in the area are rarely taught the consequences of destructive decisions and not often provided with positive alternatives to negative influences around them. The absence of organized clubs and sports limits the ability of students to learn about teamwork, leadership, and personal growth, leaving them more vulnerable to making bad choices. Many Dominican teens struggle with common adolescent issues of identity, peer pressure, and self-esteem and these personal struggles can be exacerbated because of the prevalent Dominican practice of watching telenovelas. The characters in these highly dramatic Latin soap operas personify carelessness and negative decision-making and don’t provide good role models for young people. With a $496 grant from World Connect’s Kids to Kids Program, the Telenovela for Teens! Project worked with high school students to create a high-quality telenovela that now serves as a didactic tool for teens. The series examined issues relevant to Dominican adolescents, but departed from the average telenovela format by emphasizing self-confidence and healthy decision-making related to sex, substances, friendship, and family. Janico students who participated in “Escojo Mi Vida,” a health education club, starred in and helped produce each episode of the series. Their participation in the production of the telenovela underscored important lessons about health and identity and offered them an opportunity to become peer educators and positive role models for the community at large. The Telenovela project has the potential to impact Escojo Mi Vida throughout the entire country, as the finished product was distributed to over 130 participating youth groups nationwide.