Using play to address health and safety issues for adolescent girls
Say No More is a preventative educational tool that helps educate both early-teen girls and social workers on sex trafficking. The game helps better assess, identify and empower girls ages 12-15 who may be at risk of, or are currently being trafficked.
As a graduate student enrolled in a course on games for change, my classmate Robin Newman challenged me to reflect on simple but powerful question: could we somehow create a game that helps tackle the issue of domestic sex trafficking? Together with Michelle Kwon, we tackled this idea for over a year.
- – Expert interviews with students, social workers and trafficking survivors
- – Personas
- – Participatory design
- – Stakeholder mapping
- – Surveys
- – Competitive analysis
- – Playtesting, including at the Feast Conference and at local high schools and with game experts from NYU
- ● Girls who are at-risk or currently being trafficked show clear verbal and non-verbal indicators. Sample indicators include: changes in emotional health, inconsistencies in stories, wearing excessive makeup and carrying multiple cell phones.
- ● Adults in a position to intervene are often unaware of the warning signs of a trafficking victim. While professionals may recognize changes in those they serve, they are often unable to fully understand that trafficking might be part of the issue.
- ● Victims rarely self-identify. Social workers and educators need tools that help them assess and understand the verbal and non-verbal signs of a victim of trafficking.
- ● There are very few anti-trafficking initiatives that aim to reach the most likely victims of trafficking, girls ages 12-16. There are incredible legal advocacy organizations and programs for women and girls who left or escaped trafficking, but there are very few preventative campaigns, programs and tools that target the most likely potential victims.
Our research resulted in a card game that is meant to be played with pre-teen girls and social workers.
For pre-teen girls at risk of sex trafficking, Say No More allows them to:
- ● Reflect on healthy relationship boundaries. All of the game content comes from real-life trafficking survivors’ stories, but it's not clear to those playing the game unless they are explicitly told.
- ● Learn to practice saying no and better understand how to assert themselves.
For social workers, the game helps them:
- ● Easily understand the issue of trafficking in the United States.
- ● Familiarize themselves with the warning signs that at-risk girls demonstrate. The game comes with a suggested curriculum and resource guide.
- ● Start a larger conversation about relationships and gently introduce the topic of trafficking to the girls they work with.
Results + Impact
Say No More won a 2014 Sappi Ideas That Matter Grant for nearly $20,000 in partnership with ECPAT-USA. Through the grant, we were able to produce 500 games to pilot and test with social workers, educators and teenage girls in urban areas across the United States.
I was selected for the first Fellowship for Young Women Entrepreneurs in Jordan in 2015, a program of the Open Hands Initiative. The two week entrepreneurship boot camp and pitch day provided an opportunity to better understand how to understand the potential market for Say No More and think more deeply about a business model.