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Scenarios USA is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that that uses writing and filmmaking to foster youth leadership, advocacy and self-expression in under-served teens. Scenarios USA asks teens to write about the issues that shape their lives for the annual "What's the REAL DEAL?" writing contest, and thousands have responded with their raw and revealing insights. The winning writers are partnered with some of Hollywood's finest filmmakers to transform their stories into award-winning short films. 15 million people a year watch the Scenarios USA films at film festivals, on television and in high schools nationwide. Scenarios USA believes that by valuing youth and listening to their opinions we can have an impact on promoting healthy relationships and lowering the rate of HIV, STDs and pregnancy among teens.
The history of the Scenarios project is a story of global partnership. Scenarios USA replicates and builds on the successes of Scenarios from the Sahel, a program developed by a coalition of West African organizations. Scenarios from the Sahel was inspired by and expands on a project created by a French organization working in AIDS prevention.
In 1993, in an effort to improve their understanding of what the youth knew about HIV/AIDS and where the system had failed them, a French AIDS prevention organization sponsored a film contest for young people, called 3000 Scenarios Against a Virus. Prominent filmmakers, actors and production companies joined forces and produced 30 films, which reached a wide audience in France.
In 1997, news of the success of 3000 Scenarios Against A Virus inspired a team of AIDS activists based in Senegal to initiate a similar project in West Africa. Working in partnership with local organizations in Senegal, Mali and Burkina Faso, the team organized a competition for young people to write stories about HIV/AIDS - this project became Scenarios from the Sahel. In its first year, thousands of young people participated in the contest. The submissions came equally from urban and rural areas, including the bush, and were written by individuals and teams of both genders. In February 1998, the African Scenarios aired during television coverage of the World Cup and likely reached one hundred million Africans.
- Rob York
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