Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The SCOPE Project

SPHPM recently sat down to chat with Alyce Vella, one of the co-researchers of the SCOPE Project, a collaboration between Burnet Institute and the Telematics Fund, to provide an online space for younger people to gain important public health information.

SCOPE stands for Social Connectivity: Online Perceptions and Experiences. The project was developed by lead researcher Megan Lim and Alyce Vella through conversations with organisations who work directly with young people and colleagues the Centre for Population Health (CPOP).

The SCOPE website is an online resource for young people to learn about the ramifications of social media, and access information on sexual health, cyber bullying and other topics that are relevant to them in a safe environment. The researchers wanted to develop a tool that could reach young people on a level that they would appreciate and understand and that was easily accessible. The initiative has a positive public health message for adolescents and encourages discussion and openness, as well as information, on real life matters and topics of relevance to this age group.

“We started brainstorming ideas about how to use technology to reach young people. Originally we thought maybe memes would be great, things like Grumpy Cat. But after interviews with young people (aged between 15-25), we found that memes aren’t being used anymore. Trends change very quickly,” Alyce Vella said when asked about the conception of SCOPE.

Through their interviews and research, the team at CPOP learnt that infographics, YouTube videos and interactive resources were a much better way to reach their target audience. The SCOPE website reflects these preferences; the use of bright colours, easy to follow templates and links to different websites are welcoming and young people clearly recognise that the website has been marketed to them.

Notable features include the use of real life stories. The website features stories of real experiences that many young adults have faced, whether it be online bullying, relationship matters or sexual behaviour. The stories are written by ambassadors of the project, experts in the field and from people in the community.

One of the stories from the SCOPE website
“They’re my favourite part of the project. It lets young people know that they’re not alone. Things can be confusing without lived experiences and this brings to light that these things do happen.” Alyce said.

SCOPE has different ambassadors from a diverse range of backgrounds including an AFL player, models, fashion bloggers and HIV researchers. All of these individuals have a heavy online presence and have contributed stories to SCOPE which are informative and engaging. A question and answer panel hosted with one of these ambassadors will be taking place on Friday 7th August at 1pm AEST on SCOPE’s Facebook page. SCOPE is generating a stronger online platform, with the recent development of an Instagram account. The project is attempting to connect with youth in the best way possible and online, social and digital avenues such as these are popular and feature high engagement rates for this audience.

SCOPE is continuing to grow and in the near future the researchers are aiming to evaluate the impact of the program in order to grow a stronger fan base. An evaluation is crucial to determine what characteristics of the program have been successful or unsuccessful and to identify what gaps are yet to be addressed. This information is hoped to also assist future projects that CPOP will be developing.

Given the role that technology plays in all our lives, especially the younger generation, SCOPE is a valuable asset to young people, providing them with necessary information and outlets for them to safely access without fear of judgement or humiliation.

“We need to start teaching young people at school about how to be safe online,” Alyce said.

You can access the SCOPE website here:

Instagram: @scope_aus

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