Meeting people where they are

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Grassroot Project, an HIV/AIDS education program targeted to Washington D.C. area youth, brings college athletes into D.C. schools to raise awareness and build an understanding of the disease. Instead of a traditional classroom setting, the athletes use sports and games as a means to engage students, illustrate facts, and encourage students’ commitment to living healthy lives.

From a communications standpoint, this is a great example of how to approach strategy: instead of asking, “How can we make kids care about this issue?,” Grassroot Project asked, “What do kids already care about?” (sports and fun) and “How can we meet them there?”

It is a lot easier to ignore a presentation than it is to ignore a tennis ball being thrown at you. And by physically and verbally participating in the activities, mental engagement follows.

Also worth noting: I learned about this group on USA Today’s Kindness blog, part of the paper’s increased coverage of nonprofits and philanthropy. Worth checking out: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/kindness/post/2010/04/college-athletes-use-sports-to-teach-kids-about-aids-/1