Getting creative: using games to deliver malnutrition messages
By Le Thi Nga, Research Coordinator, HealthBridge Vietnam
HealthBridge Vietnam recently created the Diversity Club (DC) in 30 villages to raise awareness about the importance of diet diversity and quality. The club is a pilot study in Son La province.
At a recent DC meeting, we designed and tested a game to help participants review key messages about nutrition and agriculture. Messages focused on three food groups – dark green leafy vegetables, vitamin-A rich fruit and vegetables, and legumes – and cooking diversified meals. We tested the game with village health workers (VHWs) during one of their regular meetings so that they could use it themselves in future trainings.
Participants themselves contributed the foods for the meeting. After they arrived, we all visited a nearby home garden to discuss the status of seasonal crops – papaya, pumpkin, French bean and sweet potatoes – after a long period of heavy rain. After returning, VHWs and participants used the contributed foods to review key messages about nutrition and food diversity. We then randomly formed participants into three teams to play the game.
Participants’ knowledge about nutrition and agriculture was tested using multiple-choice questions. Correct answers earned a team one point, incorrect answers zero. Such great fun! Participants buzzed as they discussed possible answers, laughed and cheered when they scored points and sighed when they didn’t. It was just like a TV game show!
Each team then had to choose one of the three promoted food groups and cook two dishes, using their own recipes and foods from the group as key ingredients. The dishes were tasted and graded by the other two teams based on these criteria: easy, simple, tasty, quick, and presentation. The maximum score was 10 points. Each team also assigned one member to cook rice and a big pot of coloured (diversified) porridge for children.
The finished dishes were beautifully presented. All of us – villagers, visitors (researchers) and children – enjoyed the dishes while tasting them carefully for marking. The teams scored one another highly and every member of each team went home with a prize, equivalent to boxes of milk. Participants returned home happily, telling us they were already looking forward to the next meeting.
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