supermarket spinachOur research partners from the University of Fort Hare recently conducted a baseline observational assessment of caregiver/child pairs at the pilot supermarket site in Duncan Village. After observing the interactions of over 50 pairs, our signs were mounted in the bakery and vegetable sections of the market, and the team then returned for the follow-up observations that will generate data to show us whether or not the presence of the conversation-prompting signs increases the number and quality of interactions.

While we await the analysis of this data and begin planning for the second phase of the project in local health clinics, we can’t help but look down the road and begin to ask a new set of questions. We invite readers to weigh in with responses, ideas and questions of their own! Please share your thoughts with us.

If successful, how should this approach be taken to scale?

If caregivers encounter similar signage across a range of sites within their everyday environment – if we “saturate” a target geographic area across multiple sites – will the effect be greater and/or more sustained?

Through “saturation,” will caregivers or children begin to recognize the program name and logo, and will that recognition increase their responsiveness to the prompts on the signs?

Will the kind of interactions the signage promotes carry over from public spaces and into homes?

supermarket trolley

How do caregivers feel about the signs? Do they enjoy the increased interactions the signs may prompt? Are the signs seen as supportive of positive caregiving or as intrusive instruction?

Are specific conversational prompts more effective than a campaign delivering the general message about the importance of talking with your child from birth?

How can a signage-based campaign be integrated into existing programs that reach parents more directly, personally, and consistently, e.g. home visiting programmes, community play groups, parent networks, outreach to parents of children receiving centre-based care?  

Can a public campaign reinforce the support and encouragement that parents receive through face-to-face programmes, and vice versa, if the two are explicitly linked through an identifiable logo, print materials, an SMS messaging strategy, etc.?

Please join the conversation! We would love to hear your thoughts in response to any and all of these questions. Post your comments below!

supermarket yoghurt

Sifunda Ngokuthetha (We Learn By Talking Together) is a project of South Africa Partners and Masibumbane Development Organisation.

Read more about the project at the Innovation Edge website.