The Pacific Islands are well known for their root crops, traditional meals and customary cooking styles. In this unique part of the world, food is often prepared by digging a hole in the ground and burying raw natural crops and meat or fish with hot stones to create an ‘earth oven’. This style of cooking has provided an organic and healthy diet for many generations. However, traditions are changing, and modern development has had a major impact on health in the region. The rapid increase in the consumption of imported processed foods and rise in physical inactivity has contributed to a rapid increase in diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. At the same time, increasing tobacco consumption and alcohol abuse are contributing to respiratory disease and cancer. These trends are increasingly evident among the region’s youth and are an issue of great concern across the Pacific.
However, many Pacific youth are determined to reverse these trends and raise awareness of the dangers of unhealthy lifestyles. In support of this effort, the Pacific Community (SPC) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have launched the ‘WAKE UP’ project.
In 2017 SPC launched a call for proposals, inviting youth aged 15 to 25, to create videos that would promote healthy living as well as show the harsh consequences of NCDs. Unlike more traditional awareness campaigns, the WAKE UP project wanted the youth of the region to be the lead voices behind this critical issue. 33 young Pacific Islanders from youth groups from across the Pacific were selected to produce videos, representing seven Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) – New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Zealand.
What inspired these youth to participate in the project?