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B Poppin’ for Prevention

When we heard of making a video project based on the question of “What’s in Your HIV Toolbox?” our creative team went crazy with excitement. In the field of HIV Prevention, we constantly work to creatively reach out to the community – breaking down stigma associated with HIV/AIDS and spreading prevention messages. In addition, many of our communication to at-risk communities, especially young gay and bisexual men continues to evolve using social media, phone apps, video and texting. The video project provided a perfect platform to create a fun, yet educational video about HIV prevention.

The project also provided our staff a chance to expand on our creativity and work together. Abby Nicholson, Metro’s HIV Education & Prevention Coordinator brought me and my LGBT Community Center Services team in to brainstorm ideas. With the help of Adam Jahr, LGBT Program Manager and Ta’ri Badil-Abish, Preventino Specialist, the team of four started brainstorming on how we could shine above the rest with a unique and educational video that had some humor and viral-ability to it. Somewhere in the conversation, Mary Poppins came up. Honestly, I don’t remember now how that happened but it was the perfect answer. We remembered the magic bag scene from the Disney classic and thought “What if our Toolbox was that magic bag? We have everything in our HIV Prevention Toolbox!”

Here’s our little secret – we then took a toolbox and cut a hole in the bottom of it. Then we placed it on a table we found with a glass leaf removed from the top. With the help of a simple tablecloth, we were able to provide the illusion that the toolbox was sitting on top of a solid table. Then we placed items under the table that could be pulled through the toolbox making it seem as though the box was bottomless, just like Mary Poppins' handbag. We tried to find unusual items that you wouldn’t expect and mix them up with the important items like a testing kit, lube, and most importantly condoms. Then we were able to include a condom demonstration as only Mary B. Poppin would do.

Adam and Ta’ri pulled in the help of Leo Gallego, Metro’s Program Navigation Specialist, to appear in the video as well as a young gay man along with Adam who would be visited by our lead star, which took the name “Mary B. Poppin” (played by Badil-Abish). The idea was sound and the original lyrics to “A Spoonful of Sugar” from Mary Poppins would work perfect – with just enough humor. “And ev’ry task you undertake, becomes a piece of cake. A lark! A spree! – It’s very clear to see…”

We really enjoyed the chance to have some fun and be creative, and really worked hard together to create a unique approach to the video project.

Once the video was complete, we navigated our way through video-editing software teaching ourselves along the way. Once the project was posted online we mobilized through our Facebook pages to spread the word about the video, asking others to share and vote daily. Several people in the community started sharing the video with their friends and the project helped spread the word about our prevention programs and this project within a few days. The efforts continued as the contest progressed and others presented their videos. Our entire staff helped share the video, along with key community members to spread the word. In addition, we highlighted the video on our website homepage.

The video remains on our page and we plan to continue posting out the video using our social media networks in the future. This video project has made a good addition to our other videos regarding HIV statistics, condom demonstrations and overall information about our agency which has been serving the community for 20 years in the Tampa Bay area. In addition, it has sparked creativity among our staff and inspired us to expand how we reach the community.

Since this video production, our prevention staff has also expanded our reach to “Meetup” sites, more social apps, and text messaging services to not only increase awareness but involve the community in the conversation and the work. Through group interventions, community events and social communication we are reaching more gay and bisexual men who are at risk for HIV.

One of our groups in Tampa called Healthy Men Unleashed (HMU), which is made up of high-risk negative gay and bisexual men, has started experimenting with other video outlets like Vine to expand on ways we can reach the community in fun, exciting messaging. Through these efforts we are able to continually reach young gay men and continue to evolve in our we communicate prevention messaging.

As our friend Mary B. Poppin would say “In ev’ry job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and snap! The job’s a game.”

Posted By: Chris Rudisill, Director of LGBT Community Center Services Metro Wellness and Community Centers - Wednesday, December 11, 2013

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