Accra, GHANA— The United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the National Population Council (NPC), and the Ghana Health Service (GHS) launched the “What Does YOLO Mean to Me” documentary series. The series commemorates five seasons of the award-winning television drama “YOLO – You Only Live Once.”
YOLO is a popular Ghanaian television serial drama that addresses challenges and opportunities confronting youth in Ghana. Since YOLO Season 5 aired in 2019, demand grew for more YOLO material. The NPC, GHS, and USAID partnered with Farmhouse Productions to create a 13-episode documentary series that covers topics ranging from sexual harassment and rape, menstruation, cyber bullying, teacher-student relationships, to alcohol and drugs.
The “What Does YOLO Mean to Me” event featured recorded messages from U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Stephanie S. Sullivan, Executive Director of the National Population Council Dr. Leticia Adelaide Appiah, and Director General of the Ghana Health Service Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye.
In her remarks, Ambassador Sullivan reiterated the importance of youth voices in Ghana and recommitted the United States’ support to engage youth in Ghana’s development. “I know the pandemic has been particularly difficult for you. Yet you’ve persevered and learned to adapt. Keep making smart choices, choosing the right relationships, showing respect and integrity both offline and online, and believing in yourself and your future.”
“What Does YOLO Mean To Me?” will be aired on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@yolotvseries). Additionally, the GHS will offer resources for youth to seek guidance and counselling at “Youth Corners” in health facilities and through the Ghana Health Service “You Must Know” app which can be downloaded via the google app store.
Launch of “What Does YOLO Mean to Me?”
Transcript for Recording of Goodwill message video
Time and Date of Recording: March 25, 2021, 2:30pm
Hello! My name is Stephanie Sullivan, and I’m the United States Ambassador to Ghana. When I heard about the new “What Does YOLO Mean to Me?” series, I leapt at the chance to add my voice to the campaign. In May 2019, I had the honor of participating in the launch of YOLO Series Season 5 at the Silverbird Cinemas in West Hills Mall. I felt the excitement in the room as we met the stars and watched some episodes together. I picked small small pidgin! The plot twists in YOLO are gripping and the drama is exhilarating. We are drawn to YOLO because it portrays real life experiences for youth across Ghana and around the world, evoking the promise of a brighter, healthier future.
For over twenty years, the United States has supported the Government of Ghana, the private sector, and civil society to implement social and behavior change activities, encouraging Ghanaians, including youth in particular, to lead productive, healthy lives. I’d like to commend the Government of Ghana — especially the National Population Council, the Ghana Health Service, and their media partners — for their leadership in making adolescent health a priority. The United States is proud of our partnership with the Government of Ghana and Farmhouse Productions to produce YOLO Seasons 3, 4, and 5.
The active participation and leadership of youth in society are vital to a country’s development. We know the challenges such as youth unemployment and teenage pregnancy that impede the needed participation of young people. YOLO tackles these important issues in real, frank, and open discussions.
The “What Does YOLO Mean To Me?” series is our response to a message we heard loud and clear – you need more of YOLO! The series includes clips from previous YOLO episodes and interviews with YOLO fans across Ghana. These are a window into the lives of youth across the length and breadth of Ghana. You opened your hearts and shared personal trials and tribulations through mobile diary videos. You shared your conversations with friends, talking about tough issues like cyber bulling, sex, and how to create a safe space to talk openly to your parents.
The clips are linked to the Ghana Health Service’s GoodLife Campaign social media sites to reinforce healthy messages. It takes courage to ask for help; it takes bravery to be vulnerable. If you need help, resources, or a listening ear, ah beg, seek out services at health facility “Youth Corners” or through the Ghana Health Service online counselling platform.
I would like to say a resounding “Ayekoo” for the impressive awards the YOLO series and its actors have won in recent years, including a “Life Changing” award for positive influence on youth by the University of Cape Coast; and the 2016 Ghana Movie Awards for best serial drama, best director, and 6 – count ‘em 6 – best actor/actress awards.
However, the greatest gift YOLO characters have given to youth in Ghana, and across the world, is their example of healthy and positive living, their overcoming trials with resilience and grit, and their consistent optimism, despite obstacles. The YOLO actors are both world-renowned stars and role models who have entered the households of all Ghanaian youth.
To Ghana’s young people, I know the pandemic has been particularly difficult for you. You haven’t been able to socialize in person with your friends. Some of you may not have had access to key services during the periods of lockdown and social isolation. Yet you’ve persevered and learned to adapt. Keep making smart choices, choosing the right relationships, showing respect and integrity both offline and online, and believing in yourself and your future. After all: “You Only Live Once – GoodLife, Live it Well.”
USAID is the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential. USAID’s activities and strategic partnerships support Ghana’s journey to self-reliance and advances an integrated approach to development. It promotes accountability, sustainable systems, and inclusive development.