Planned Parenthood of NY Uses Text Message Storytelling to Teach Teens about their Health


Planned Parenthood of New York has a new campaign to use text messaging to educate minority young people about their sexual health. NowUKnow presents the stories of Lisa and Troy, as well as their gay friend Andre, three teens who are confronting the real problems that sexually active teens might face.

Teens first encounter the campaign through videos showing on hip hop websites, such as World Star Hip Hop and Global Grind. Each video shows a health-related scene from Troy or Lisa’s life, and presents the viewer with a dilemma. In the below clip, for example, Troy and Lisa have to decide whether or not to have sex, even with an expired condom. Viewers text in their opinions on whether they should go ahead and do it – or if they should wait.

Planned Parenthood Call to Action

Once users text in, they receive updates from Troy, Lisa, and Andre about everything from STDs to emergency contraception. “Last weekend, even tho we agreed 2 always use condoms, Lisa and I had sex even tho the condom broke. Bad idea,” Troy texts. Later, Lisa adds, “The condom was old and it broke right in the middle of everything. We didn’t notice til too late. Then we both started freaking out.”

By couching sexual health education inside this personal narrative, Planned Parenthood is turning the dry facts into a compelling story – and a powerful educational opportunity.

The campaign ultimately drives young people to talk to a counselor or visit Planned Parenthood for testing. Many texts suggest that users text “TALKNY” to 774636, where they’ll be connected to a health educator. Others suggest they text “HIV” to 802495 for testing info.

Check out some of the texts from the campaign below. Then visit the NowUKnow website to learn more.

planned parenthood message flow

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