Lead: Dr Gill Black Project manager: Nabeel Petersen Funders: Wellcome Trust
In November 2015, SLF became the proud winner of a Wellcome Trust International Engagement Award. The Wellcome Trust provides these awards for innovative public or community engagement projects that explore biomedical research or health in Africa and Asia. This support enabled SLF to implement a brand new project – The Heart Of The Matter – that responded to the growing challenge of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in South Africa. Click here to explore our Heart of the Matter Photobook, a first-of-its-kind publication that brings community members and scientists into conversation through photographs. The risk of CVD is heightened when social, cultural and economic challenges interconnect and influence the emergence of unhealthy diets. The Heart Of The Matter worked on the rationale that CVD research could benefit from a more grounded understanding about what ‘healthy eating’ means to people facing the day-to-day pressures of urban township life, and the multiple drivers that inform food choices. This project brought together residents from the township of Delft and members of Professor Hans Strijdom’s CVD research team at Stellenbosch University, in 3 distinct project phases that aimed to produce 3 participatory products. A series of interactive workshops encouraged all participants to share their perspectives about what it means to eat well, engage in dialogue about the implications of diet on health, and discuss the need for and aims of CVD research. This knowledge exchange process was fostered through the collective creation of photodiaries and collaborative videos. Visual outputs were widely disseminated to communicate the complex and intersecting factors that influence eating habits, health, and the approach to CVD research. Phase 1 of the project involved interaction between approximately 14 adults from Delft – aged between 35 and 65 – who have to consider children or grandchildren when purchasing, preparing and consumption of food, and the CVD research team from Stellenbosch University. These adults from Delft participated in a Photovoice process which explored accessibility to food, key factors influencing food choice and perspectives on what healthy eating means in the urban township of Delft. Phase 2 of the project involved 9 youth from Delft – aged between 18 and 23 – who do not have to consider children when purchasing, preparing or consuming food. The youth, collectively, designed, scripted and filmed their video titled Your Health is Your Wealth that responds to the challenge of incremental rates of CVD in their community. Phase 3 of the project aimed to bring all groups together, i.e. adults from Delft, youth from Delft and the University of Stellenbosch CVD researchers, to make a collaborative video illustrating the exchange of knowledge and mutual learning that had taken place as a result of their partnership. The video, For A Better Life, was designed by the Delft participants who also did all the filming at different locations in Delft, and at Tygerberg hospital. Phase 4 of the project was a final HOTM event, during which the work produced was showcased to the broader Delft community. Read about that event here.