In Summary

  • Communication design students create digital space for girls to discuss pelvic floor health
  • Teenage girls share advice and concerns in a safe digital forum designed to support them

Swinburne School of Design and Victorian Continence Resource Centre (VCRC) are collaborating to support teenage girls.

Design researchers are implementing research in a Go Against the Flow campaign across social media. The campaign encourages discussion about pelvic floor health and continence in teenage girls.

Designers have identified barriers and triggers to teenagers openly discussing their symptoms. Go Against the Flow is where girls can discuss their problems with one another. The digital platform gives access to reliable information about continence and other issues.

One in eight teenage girls have urinary incontinence. This is a previously ignored phenomenon. Continence is aggravated by inappropriate exercise and excessive water or caffeine consumption. Discussion of the problem is taboo among teenage girls, potentially leading to social isolation.

Associate Professors Carolyn Barnes and Nicki Wragg conducted a series of research workshops with teenage girls. The workshops identified relevant and creative approaches to encourage girls to seek information and support.

Communication design students from Swinburne Design’s Bureau worked with a social media strategist, translating research.

The Go Against the Flow website launched late last year. An animation featuring The Green Falcon, pelvic floor health superhero, was created. The social media campaign gave teenage girls confidence and power to collectively face a growing problem.

‌‌ Green falcon superhero flying through the airGreen Falcon superhero sleeping in bed‌Image credit -  the Bureau at Swinburne School of Design

‌‌‌“This involved a massive volume of work including photoshoots, talent searches, working with photographers, independent media strategists, copywriters and experts at the VCRC,” explains Associate Professor Wragg.

The initiative was supported by a Victorian Department of Health and Human Services grant. Since launching, the Go Against the Flow platform has rapidly grown into a supportive community. It allows girls to talk to one another more openly about continence problems.

“The creative strategy takes a light-hearted approach to continence problems. It makes them easy for teenagers to grapple with. It doesn’t just focus on recognised continence problems, post-pregnancy and in the elderly,” explains Associate Professor Wragg.

girl wearing santa hat exercising on mat  girl standing in front of painted wings on wall‌Photography by Damien Kook

The initiative breaks new ground by providing a supportive peer-led space for teenagers. They can now share and engage with one another,” she says.

The platform is attracting national and international followers. The VCRC are now receiving enquiries from schools concerned about students and this hidden problem.

Illustration message - today I will be as useless as the g in lasagne  Message if it requires pants or a bra it's not happening today‌Go Against the Flow illustrations by Tiarne White

Go Against the Flow is creating a holistic community of girls understanding each other. They are no longer being told what needs to occur by adults. They can now access a credible, reliable resource with forums designed to support and engage them,” says Associate Professor Barnes.


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