YAHAnet is a virtual global networking platform that connects youth groups and individuals around the world that are addressing, or would like to learn how to address, HIV and AIDS issues through arts and media. YAHAnet members can use newly-gained knowledge, strategies, and techniques from their peers to develop or improve their own organizations/groups and become leaders in their communities. On the website, members can show creative talent in a Virtual Gallery, share ideas within specific Workgroups and on the site-wide Forum, learn from a variety of How-To Guides and resources, and plan and advertize events in a Community Calendar.
An Overview of What YAHAnet Has to Offer:
- video, audio, and image galleries where each member, workgroup, or organization can display artistic creations
- a social networking component that puts individuals and groups/organizations in direct communication through shared workgroups, event calendars, and forums and serves to extend users’ repertoire of arts-based approaches while deepening cultural understanding of HIV & AIDS issues
- material on ethics related to HIV & AIDS including gender-based analysis and discussion of social stigma
- up-to-date information on health and behaviour relevant to HIV & AIDS and young people such as statistics, new findings about prevention, and current research
- how-to guides on using specific art forms to raise awareness about HIV & AIDS and counter stigma and discrimination
- a searchable database of literature on how to use the arts for social change
- surveys, quizzes, and featured projects/activities to generate on-going interest in the web tool
The idea of creating YAHAnet was initiated by professors in McGill University’s Faculty of Education (Claudia Mitchell, Bronwen Low, and Michael Hoechsmann) in accordance with the findings of a comprehensive UNESCO-sponsored study carried out from 2005–2006 that surveyed approximately 300 youth activist/arts-based groups across the world. The McGill team partnered with the University of Toronto in Canada (through the Gendering Adolescent AIDS Prevention project and the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa (through the Centre for Visual Methodologies for Social Change) to get the web project started. Funding was provided by the Culture and HIV Division of UNESCO The partnership expanded in 2010 to include the HIV and AIDS Education Research Chair at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa. YAHAnet is currently maintained, promoted, and expanded by a student team in Montréal, Québec, Canada, which is overseen by Project Coordinator John Murray and Project Leader Claudia Mitchell at the Participatory Cultures Lab.