Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Medical Foundation Planning meeting

Yesterday I sat in on a meeting that occurred in the hallway between the row of graphics computers and the clanging and banging of the sculpture studio. It was the first of what will be a series of discussions as teenagers from AFH work with The Medical Foundation ( for a new campaign. The initiative is to promote youth, black and latino in particular, to be informed and active about their healthcare. Last year, AFH worked with The Medical Foundation to design a website (, flyers, stickers and posters to appeal to teenagers. This campaign is another push to connect young people to the website so that they can be actively involved with their health services.

At first, the collection of teens from AFH were confused by the purpose of the meeting. The printed out email exchange between The Medical Foundation and the AFH office was jargon – why were they here? “Soliciting young people?” Things cleared up pretty quickly when the meeting got rolling, however. As everybody understood the challenge at hand – get young people interested and involved in this website to help them take initiative for their healthcare – the ideas began to poor out. With the usual clatter of the studios the onslaught of people trying to share ideas, it was a chaotic brainstorming session.

Everything from “animated” ads on the subway to videos on the website (interviews, dramatizations, AFH murals based on responses received on the URhealthstyle website). The importance of using music to reach out on the radio and tapping into Myspace and Facebook networks were also discussed. Where to put murals, how to make health offices more appealing, what should be on the websites… As the meeting wound down, it was pretty obvious that some long tangents had been taken from what The Medical Foundation was originally thinking for this project. But this hectic, sidetracked discussion was essential to kick off the project.

Everybody is excited about where this collaboration will go. It was a new and exciting experience for some. “I’ve never been in a meeting like this," one of the AFH members remarked. But it's probably only the first of many to come.

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