KHETHA Content by Echo Ledge Media

Can story influence behaviour?

Echo Ledge Media, in conjunction with Aviro Med Design are in the Create Phase of a 3 phase project that looks at how technology and story can help guide youth in making and maintaining healthy lifestyle and living. Created in partnership for MSF (Doctors Without Borders) Southern Africa, a platform will be built that incorporates a variety of media included animated informational video, narrative stories, character testimonials, augmented reality and virtual reality components.

During the first phase of the project: Explore. Aviro Med Design and Echo Ledge Media conducted extensive user design research to deeply understand the audience that the tool is being created for. Working with partners, Deloitte Digital user design workshops were conducted in Khayelitsha (Cape Town) and Eshowe (KZN). From these workshops insights were gathered to understand the user journeys and interactions with the health care facilities, their personal environments, their level of knowledge and education and the type of stories that they resonate and connect with.

Now, during this next phase creative content as well as an interactive platform is being designed with these users in mind. The tool will be available both online and offline so as to maximise the reach within areas with limited connectivity. In the third phase MSF will conduct research to the effectiveness of this intervention and its potential for upscaling throughout Africa.

The Youth & Content

During the discover phase (User design, sprints & workshops) the need for story, creativity and visual messaging was strongly emphasized from both the youth and the organizational partners. As the world the youth occupy today is viewed through a screen, the content on the screen needs to be considered and valuable. Four key facts were highlighted regarding using story for influencing behaviours.

Phase 1 | Discover

1. Video must be entertaining

When encountering video, be it live action or animation, there is an inherent expectation of entertainment. This doesn't necessarily translate to comedy or drama but rather speaks to the production value of the content. Videos which only deal with facts and information without attempting to entertain the audience is dismissed. Even if the understanding is that the video was there to educate youth were still disappointed by a lack of “entertainment”

2. The audience has an advanced visual language

Visual story telling is a language and as it is now common for social media to be filled with video the average understanding of audio visual language is very high. The understanding of how films are made and put together has also contributed to this language. This means that in order to be engaging and taken seriously videos need to contain complex story telling, with compelling narratives and deep characters, even within small videos for use within an application these videos need to be made with the consideration of film, not only of education.

3. Characters need to be believable and relatable

Youth are contacting to characters that are relatable and believable. They tend to find wholesome perfect examples of characters unbelievable and therefore not an example they would differ to when making their own decisions. Different types of youth related to different characters. Some of these characters are being shared over social media in Facebook Stories or Twitter feeds, others they are finding on their favorite soapies and tv shows. What we see is common is that non of the characters are flawless. They are always relatable enough that they can see themselves in the characters shoes. If we can create characters like this then we will be able to influence behavior by showing youth how characters they relate to could act, showing both the positive and negative results of this action will allow youth to live through an experience and hopefully chose the normative action.

4. Context might vary but stories will travel

The context we where working in, in Khayaletsha South Africa is specific. It has a specific history and socio-political climate. The stories we found that resonated from the youth, stories and tales they made up from their own experiences, these can be found across all youth irrespective of context. Youth are asking the same questions regarding, sexuality, identity, risk behaviors and their place in society irrespective of specific context. These are potential areas of influence that can be guided using story and video elements within the application.

Phase 2 | Create


After several workshops and writing sessions 4 narratives scripts were produced to be filmed. The team tackled difficult subject matter through the experience of youth. They are aimed at a broad audience of 14 - 22 years old and have characters that will resonate as real people.

Along with the 4 stories there is a complete introductory course to HIV Education which covers factual content related to HIV and the process of going to health facilities and taking test and medication. This content includes both animated video as well as characters talking directly to the audience.

The third component is a Virtual Reality experiences, which gives the viewer and immersive first hand experience of what a bad decision can mean and how to correctly make decisions in tough situations.


Andile (16)

Andile is a 16 year old school going youth. He is a man with a plan, he is confident in his ability at school and studies diligently to get good grades. His community knows that he is smart and that he will be going to university. He is a little introverted in social situations and wants to be more popular with the girls. He is a mid fielder in the soccer team.

Luyanda (17)

Luyanda is an activist on a mission, sometimes the mission is unclear but her community knows her to be a smart woman with strong leadership qualities. She uses her time to fill justice causes. She has known Nelisa since they were very young, they lived on the same block. She isn’t really a part of Nelisa friend circle but when she is around the girls respect her and look up to her woke approach to life.

Mandla (17)

Mandla is 17 and best friends with Andile. He like Andile does well at school. He plays the goalkeeper on the soccer team. Being a bit older he has more experience with girls and is friends with some of the older boys. He has some nice sneakers and takes care of his looks. He like Nelisa but is a little bit scared to make a move because she is so confident.

Nelisa (17)

Nelisa is a sexually proactive, smart and sassy teen who likes to enjoy herself. She is the leader of the pack because she is bold and confident and also very self assured. Although she isn’t super bright at school she has loads of street smarts. She knows how to get what she wants and she can manipulate people. She always has data thanks to some of her more beneficial relationships. And she uses this data to be on social media a lot. She even has some followers who as he doesn’t know in real life. She has a soft spot for Siyamthanda. Although they are very different she appreciates that she can have someone to talk to who is a bit less dramatic and that they can send down time just relaxing together and not trying to hard.

Sibusiso (17)

Sibusiso dropped out of school last year to help his mom get money for the household. He started playing soccer more and he is quite good. Soccer has become a relief for him, it is a space where he is respected and valued, it his dream to play in the PSL. The boys in the soccer team admire him and look up to him. He is considered to be very cool. While the the other boys are at school he is hustling to make money. He waits for possible job pick ups and sometimes he cuts hair with his uncle’s clippers. He is sexually active, sometimes his behavior is risky even though he understands the risks, he is knows that he is HIV positive but doesn’t want to engage with it, he doesn’t take meds and makes fun of the disease.

Thulani (16)

Thulani is known to be the funny guy, he loves to make jokes and get a good laugh out of his team. He s fairly popular so he can get away with being preachy sometimes. He is a bit of a hypochondriac. His mom is the nurse at the clinic and she has, from a very young age, been telling him all the possible ways of getting sick. He always has hand sanitiser and tissues on him. He is also a wealth of information as his mom keeps him informed and often is the voice of truth or reason in conversations about stigma or myths regarding health.

Siyamthanda (16)

Siyamthanda has been HIV positive since birth. She is disclosed to the family she lives with, her grandmother and mother but keeps her status to herself at school. She is starting to explore her body and her emotions, being interested in a first love and wanting to see how to take it further. She is very aware of her status and this makes her hyper cautious as well as fairly reserved. She never looks for attention and prefers to be the quiet one. Her best friend is Nelisa because with her she is never in the spot light but they have a caring friendship when they are alone together she can be herself.

Thembinkosi (16)

Thembinkosi is Sibusiso's younger brother and the innocent one in the group. He is a church going youth, who enjoys church activities as a way of interacting with friends and girls. He is a bit naïve to the way of the world and can easily be influenced by his peers. He like Siyamthanda and they have a shy and quiet relationship.

Zukiswa (16)

Zukiswa is friends with Siyamthanda and Nelisa but secretly thinks she is a bit better than they are. She admires Nelisa and her outgoing boldness. She is quite competitive and her dad, who works in Johannesburg, sends her pocket money so she too has a phone with data. She isn’t as popular on social media as Nelisa and this is one of her goals. She is a church going girl, who sings in the choir and enjoys doing church activities. Here she know Thembinkosi but thinks he isn’t cool enough for her. She is looking for a boyfriend but more for status than love and is interested only in older guys.

The YouTubers

For the Educational syllabus we approached the content in a new way. Youth consistently reminded us that they have at their finger tips access to a lot of information. What we wanted to ensure was that the information they were getting was correct. This content was written in partnership with MSF (Doctors Without Borders) and then reinterpreted through the lens of young YouTube personas who added their own attitude and appreciation to the facts.


Not your average girl

Sassy and fun, Nelisa reappears as a Youtuber with a whole host of educational content for youth as it relates to sexual behaviour and HIV. Her videos come in both Xhosa and English as she is appealing to all her peers.


It's time to learn something new!

Happy to be sharing his new information, ?? our best friend who so wisely flashes condoms at you during the VR is both fun and informed. He makes sure his audience knows their info through his Xhosa and English You Tube videos.


Get Informed.

Thami has your back with his knowledge bombs of all things health related. He wants to communicate with his people, and his fans, so he speaks in Zulu to bring his facts to life with his own flair.


Lwandile's Life Lessons

Queen of the ball, Lwandile knows what she is talking about and loves to spread her knowledge. With a fun loving approach and a big smile she speaks Zulu to make sure all her fans can understand her important message.

The Test 360 Experience

The Platform

Aviro Health, the medical design and technology firm that has been the project lead since its inception, has modified its unique platform "Ithaka" for the home of KHETHA. Khetha is a

For more information about this project or to get involved, please contact Aviro Health (medical innovation, project lead and platform development) or Echo Ledge Media (content, media and story development).


Created with images by Bess-Hamiti - "children siblings brother" • ivanovgood - "girl portrait hair" • voltamax - "book hands reflecting" • JESHOOTS-com - "laptop woman education"

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