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YOLO shines at USAID Creative Bridges Youth Conference in US
YOLO shines at USAID Creative Bridges Youth Conference in US

YOLO shines at USAID Creative Bridges Youth Conference in US

The achievements of ‘YOLO – You Only Live Once’ the popular Ghanaian Television series took centre stage at the USAID Creative Bridges Youth Conference in Washington DC, United States of America.


The two-day conference organized under the auspices of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other partners was held on the theme ‘Creative Bridges: Exploring New Models, New Partnerships, and External Outreach to Advance Youth Development - A Closer Look and Dialogue on Promoting Ways to Advance Youth Strategic Programmes in the Arts, Civics, Sports for Development and STEM’.

It offered participants the opportunity to share how new learning and approaches to youth development programming in the arts, civics, sports for development, STEM, and faith-based partnerships can contribute to cross-organizational collaboration by engaging young people and promoting leadership skills. Farmhouse Productions, which produces the hit young adult ‘edutainment’ programme, You Only Live Once (YOLO), leveraged the successes of the show and shared learnings across the seven seasons aired so far at the event. 

Other hosts include Draper University, the Center for PAINT at the University of South Florida, the Department of Defense (DOD), the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), MTA Visions Global (Youth Leading Now), and the Tzu Chi Foundation.

The discussion brought together varied viewpoints from practitioners, organizations, and adolescents from the United States and throughout the world including Jamaica, St Lucia, Colombia, Barbados, Rwanda, Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana. The event aimed to broaden community and foster cross-organizational collaboration by bringing together representatives from government, the private sector, underrepresented and underserved communities, educators, schools and universities, implementing partners and young people.

Ghanaian filmmaker and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Farmhouse Production, Ivan Quashigah, highlighted in a presentation, the impressive achievements and social media traction of the series ‘You Only Live Once’ (YOLO).

The award-winning young adult programme, YOLO, chronicles the lives of young Ghanaians as they navigate crucial health, gender, social, and cultural issues. The hit series has garnered a diverse and substantial audience across social media and television. The show's engaging storylines captivate youth while offering valuable life lessons.

For seven seasons, YOLO has delivered thrilling narratives, depicting the challenges and adventures of young Ghanaians. Season 7 featured a special cameo by the Second Gentleman of the United States, Mr. Douglas Emhoff.

“YOLO boasts over 5,200,000 weekly views on television, with over 12,000,000 views on YouTube for Season 7 alone, and accumulated a staggering 70,000,000 views across all seasons on YouTube. Additionally, Season 7 has prompted over 4,886 calls from viewers, underscoring its widespread impact and reach,” Mr. Quashigah revealed.

Mr. Quashigah went ahead to emphasize the event’s impact on youth awareness and its mission to educate and engage youth in global and domestic issues for future collaboration and mentorship. “The USAID Creative Bridges event seeks to increase youth awareness and knowledge through outreach by engaging with the youth to expand their knowledge around both international affairs and development, as well as domestic programs related to these topics for future mentorships, careers, and collaboration to solve some of the greatest global challenges," he explained.

According to him, the youth participants benefited from an environment of collaboration that used their leadership, creativity, and new insights to develop responsible ecosystems. He stated that students were exposed to a wide range of disciplines as well as creative problem-solving strategies in youth development, with the goal of resolving present and future difficulties. 

Ghanaian actress and a star of YOLO, Akosua Asieduaa Asare-Brewu, highlighted the urgent need for concerted efforts to empower the girl child and tackle period poverty, particularly prevalent in Ghana. "Empowering youth is not just a moral obligation, but a strategic investment in our collective future. By working together and harnessing the creativity, leadership, and innovative insights of youth, we can cultivate civic-engaged ecosystems, build a brighter future for all and eradicate period poverty,” she stated.

Drawing from her experiences and observations, she underscored the importance of prioritizing these issues to ensure a brighter and more equitable future for all.

The conference also included a collaborative learning space where universities, Master of Science in Information Studies (MSIS) K-12 administrators, non-traditional partners, underrepresented and underserved communities, and U.S. Government interagency representatives could share feedback, ideas, and questions, resulting in actionable strategies to address youth needs and aspirations to face global challenges.

Participants gained access to a large network of organizations and individuals dedicated to youth development, insights into youth needs, challenges, and innovative ideas, as well as opportunities to foster collaborations with other entities to increase their impact on global and domestic youth development.

The YOLO team’s participation was facilitated by the USAID/Ghana office and the ASBC Activity which is funded by USAID and implemented by FHI360.

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