Anxious that South Africa should defy international trends and avoid a second wave of coronavirus infections, the Health and Welfare Sector and Training Education Authority (HWSETA) has launched a second series of animated educational videos through Real Heroes Connect; a platform created in conjunction with strategic talent consultancy, Talent Brand.
This move has been prompted by the realisation that a second wave could be possible if SA does not observe safety and comply with the regulations, explains HWSETA CEO Elaine Brass. “It is not human nature to observe social distancing. We understand that the virus is still a real threat, in spite of relaxed regulations. We also know what steps we need to take in order to stay safe. And yet, whether through fatigue or sheer carelessness, many of us are neglecting or forgetting to follow these basic protocols: washing and sanitising hands, wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing.”
Brass’s concern about a second wave is borne out by the steady rise in infection numbers by many countries after relaxation of Lockdown Levels. She points to situations in Europe, Russia, India and other countries, where daily infections frequently outnumber infection levels during the initial outbreak. “The only way we can prevent South Africa from experiencing the same is by ensuring that we don’t fall prey to complacency.”
This is precisely what the next series of Real Heroes Connect videos aims to accomplish. While the first phase of the project (total of nine videos in four South African official languages), launched in April this year, answered basic questions around coronavirus and shared important facts – such as what it is, how to prevent its spread through physical distancing, and how to travel to work safely – this next series (a total of seven videos) is more geared towards addressing the complexities of the post-Covid world.
Brass notes that the project initially targeted essential workers during the hard phase of lockdown, as a means of keeping them safe and healthy so that factories and workplaces could continue to be productive. This was important, as most businesses had taken a hard knock along with the economy and wouldn’t be able to withstand forced closures due to sick employees. The campaign later broadened its focus as lockdown regulations relaxed, striving to educate all South Africans about the virus.
Now that most of us have at least a basic understanding of what coronavirus is and how we can prevent its spread, the next step is to help people adjust to the very different conditions of the world in the wake of the pandemic. Thus, Real Heroes Connect now explores questions such as how do I deal with stigma? How can I stay well in a Covid-19 world? What does effective parenting look like in the time of Covid? How does self-isolation differ from self-quarantine? Why is stigma a problem? How can I show people I care? And what happens if I test positive for Covid-19?
Brass reflects that the first phase of the Real Heroes Connect project was extremely successful, reaching over two million South Africans – compared to an initial target of 50 000 per month. Perhaps more importantly, the video content was both understood and retained. Real Heroes Connect’s Jo Watt attributes this to the animated videos’ design, which was carefully planned to ensure appeal to a wide range of learning styles: from audio to visual or tactile, we made certain to incorporate a variety of touchpoints that would help people assimilate information in the manner that suited them best.
“This was important to us, because there is little point in bombarding people with information they don’t heed,” Watt points out. With this in mind, Real Heroes Connect was formulated to encourage shareability: while the videos were available in static format so that they could be flighted at workplace premises, they could also be downloaded (free of charge) and shared – and people who did so stood a chance of winning a share in daily airtime.
Real Heroes Connect is one of several investments in public health and social development made by HWSETA, with the organisation’s contribution to initiatives totalling about R200 million to date.
“South Africa has been through a terribly dark time. We are proud to support HWSETA in making every attempt to avoid more disruptions to the economy and, worse still, loss to human life. It all hinges on relying on South Africans not to become complacent,” Watt concludes. “Help us to spread the facts and keep South Africa safe, visit www.realheroesconnect.com.”