BronxNet is teaming up with educators to help the borough’s youth create ‘countermarketing’ campaigns aimed at encouraging healthful eating and fitness.
The borough’s public access television service made available a host of its team members in specialties including social media, copywriting, graphics design, on-air reporting and videography to teachers in borough schools who are helping students design countermarketing campaigns challenging narratives offered by makers and marketers of sugary drinks, fast food and ‘junk food.’
BronxNet offered a workshop on Tuesday, November 20 at its Lehman College studios to middle and high school educators who are embarking on an eight-week project with students as part of a Bronx Health REACH project.
“We were so happy to be able to welcome these educators and Bronx Health REACH so we could provide expertise, demonstration and an interactive workshop on coutermarketing and media,” said Michael Max Knobbe, BronxNet executive director. “These educators will go on to work with students in the classroom and we are providing the expertise to help them develop public awareness.”
Knobbe said he hopes that some of the concepts developed by the borough’s youth can be incorporated into public service announcements.
Their students will create campaigns using a variety of methods, said Moria Byrne-Zaaloff, Bronx Health REACH’s Creating Healthy Schools and Community Program coordinator.
Creating Healthy Schools is a NYS Department of Health funded multiple sector effort that promotes nutrition, healthy food access, and opportunities for physical education.
The development of the awareness campaigns should be complete by February 15, 2019, she said, at which point schools will be implementing the marketing campaigns to the entire school communities.
“In an environment like the Bronx, (which can be) full of junk food, it is very important to be aware of the tactics used by the fast food companies,” she stated. “This will make children and families more aware of their surroundings and empowers them to say “no” to the many unhealthy cues.”
The projects will take place at a variety of borough schools, primarily in the southern part of the borough, where health disparities and childhood obesity are at the most acute levels, said Byrne-Zaaloff.
Participating schools include M.S. 811, Comprehensive Model School Project, J.M. Rapport School for Career Development, M.S. 101 and Soundview Academy of Culture and Scholarship, she stated.
Additionally, members of a New Settlement Houses after school program participated, she said, adding that ten classes in total will develop countermarking campaigns.
Teachers learned how different aspects of media campaigns work from experts at BronxNet, including best practices in creating a good poster, video making essentials, and the use of quality photos and social media, across a crash-course in every aspect of media, according to Byrne-Zaaloff.
The efforts seek to utilize peer-to-peer communication, which are most effective in changing behavior in youth, said Byrne-Zaaloff. The goal isn’t to tell youth what to do, but to raise their awareness as to how marketing may be influencing their decisions.