By Regina Moore, PSI
Still looking for the perfect Halloween costume? At PSI we do whatever it takes to get life-saving health information to people, and often costumes are the perfect way to get people’s attention. Check out some of the costumes we’ve used over the years, and don’t forget to share with us any of the great Halloween ideas they inspire!
1. The Prevention Squad in Angola
What better way to get a child’s attention than superheroes keeping people safe? PSI/Angola introduced the Esquadrão da Prevenção, or Prevention Squad, to motivate children to help fight two of the largest killers of children under five, malaria and diarrheal disease. The members of the squad represent key efforts to fight childhood illness – a commander who shoots malaria nets to protect sleeping children, a captain who treats water to make it safe to drink, a goofy lieutenant who plays with soap bubbles and clean water to encourage kids to wash their hands, and the doctor who invented the team and makes sure that treatment is available when prevention efforts fail.
PSI/Angola used television, radio, life-size posters, comic books and, of course, costumes to enlist “Little Commanders” to play the role of superheroes and teach their parents about protecting themselves from malaria and water-borne illnesses.
2. Giant Puppets in Lesotho
As the music of the brass band spreads through town, curious community members wander down the street to find a parade of giant puppets marching to their destination. A form of “edutainment,” the puppets are the center of PSI/Lesotho’s mobile outreach activities as part of its Pusha Love Campaign. They lead villagers through town to watch skits, listen to music and participate in fun competitions—all infused with critical health information about preventing HIV and the importance of HIV testing and counseling.
PSI-trained health educators roam through the crowd and community, encouraging participation, speaking with people about HIV and AIDS and referring them for on-the-spot HIV testing and counseling services in nearby tents.
3. Green Men in Swaziland
“Mysterious Men Invade Mbabane” read the headline of The Times of Swaziland, a leading newspaper in the southern African country. Color images splashed across the page of men dressed in green posing with surprised onlookers. These mysterious green men were the brainchild of PSI/Swaziland, deployed as a guerilla marketing stunt to raise awareness about male circumcision.
The men wore turtlenecks pulled above their heads—representing an uncircumcised man—and spent two days causing a stir in the capital city of Mbabane. Several newspapers covered their appearance and by the end of two short days, they had quickly infiltrated Swazi pop culture. An added bonus, after the campaign’s ends the actors themselves each decided to get circumcised.
4. Condom Police in Guatemala
During Semana Santa, or Holy Week, in Latin America, many take to the roads for a beach vacation. PSI’s Central American network member, PASMO, saw this as a perfect opportunity to educate people about condom use. They created the Condom Police.
“Do you have your ID with you? Are you protected? Are you carrying condoms?” asked the Condom Police as they passed out free samples of PASMO’s leading condom brand Vive. The Condom Police chatted with vacationers about the importance of protecting themselves during sex, handed out educational materials and directed them to local pharmacies and condom outlets to purchase more as needed.