Teen Persona Dolls can be used to share important information on sexual rights and responsibilities, to raise issues that are difficult to talk about and to challenge negative myths and stigma. These age-appropriate Dolls encourage information sharing on sexual rights and responsibilities and facilitate conversation on topics such as sexual abuse, contraception, HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases, stigma, and bullying.
Refilwe is 15 years old, in Grade 9. She lives with her mother, her auntie and her two younger brothers in Diepsloot, near Johannesburg. Her friends call her Refi. Her dad is a long-distance truck driver and he comes home once a month. Refi has no sisters but her best friend Naledi is like a sister to her. Naledi lives next door with her aunt, uncle and her cousins. Refi and Naledi are the same age, they were even born the same month, in September, and they have been like sisters since crèche.
Children face many issues and problems in their daily lives. Persona Dolls are used in ECD centres, schools, homes and communities by teachers, social workers, home visitors and other adults working with children and teenagers to discuss these issues, explore diversity and address bias. Each Doll has his/her own ‘Persona’ – name, gender, home and family background, culture, language, religion, social class, skin colour and physical features, special abilities and disabilities, likes and dislikes. Persona Dolls provide a useful tool to communicate with children and encourage them to communicate better through stories and dialogue, as illustrated in the sample stories below:
Teachers in a small town, where all the children have a similar cultural background, decide to introduce a Doll from a different background. They make sure that there is plenty in the Doll’s life that the children can identify with.