Nothing about us without us! Adolescent participation in research
The Accelerate Hub actively hosts adolescent engagement activities in multiple African countries, which have included Sierra Leone, Uganda, Kenya and South Africa to date. These groups have been composed of diverse groups of young people, including young parents, adolescents living with or closely affected by HIV, and adolescents living in contexts of poverty and precarity. Aware that adolescents are experts in their own lives and contexts, Accelerate Hub has been hard-at-work with teen advisory groups (TAGs) to learn about the issues that are important to them, and hear how they want to participant in research.
Over the past year Accelerate Hub held eight group engagements over fifteen days with fifty-two adolescents in three groups - based in the Eastern and Western Cape Provinces of South Africa, and in Kisumu, Kenya.
Using participatory methods, Accelerate Hub is co-developing research priorities and methods that are responsive to adolescent’s development-related needs and interests. In March 2020 we will celebrate the culmination of the 10-year collaboration of the Western Cape TAG, which will include a theatre performance and mural painting developed by the group. The Hub team also recently established a Teenage Advisory Group in Kenya in February 2020, and look forward to engaging more with them in the years to come.
One of the main guiding principles of TAG is the inclusion of participants at all stages of the research, across Accelerate Hub. This is achieved through:
1. Adolescent Partnership: Adolescents are core partners in co-creating the services Accelerate Hub will test. It is our aim to foreground issues that adolescents perceive to be important to them.
2. Acceptability of services: Adult-designed interventions often have low adolescent uptake and retention. In addition to other means of adolescent engagement, TAGs will advise and inform Accelerate Hub researchers in the acceptability of services in their local contexts, to maximise uptake and retention of services.
3. Adolescent communication: We aim to be responsive to local needs, and together with our local partners, work in developing locally relevant and adolescent-accessible engagement methods.
4. Representation of vulnerable adolescents: We aim to include adolescent populations that are usually hard to reach and not always represented, such as adolescents living with disabilities. Through the work we do, we aim to include adolescents in other activities of Accelerate Hub.