Getting people, especially the youth, to change their behaviours and lead more responsible lives requires innovative approaches. loveLife has done just that with its new digital platform, iloveLife.mobi.

On the iloveLife.mobi journey, young people are rewarded for life-affirming, empowering and healthy behaviour. Everything they do on the site scores points – points that can win them desirable prizes such as clothing store shopping vouchers, cellphone airtime and food vouchers.

Through the development of iloveLife.mobi, which has been funded by the German government development bank KfW, loveLife is now able to offer support and a wealth of knowledge to millions of young people – conveniently and instantly, on their cellphones.

Other partners of the iloveLife initiative include the Department of Health and the Department of Basic Education. In addition, iloveLife.mobi has partnered with several other NGO partners, including info4africa, which will integrate with the platform to connect young people to services that will help them to live more responsible lives.

The mobisite launch was held on 21 July at The Sheds, a funky, industrial venue in Newtown, Johannesburg. The event was a vibrant and engaging one, packed with fun activities such as an iloveLife.mobi quiz that soon had the audience interacting on the new platform.

The launch was attended by representatives of a wide range of organisations, including Vodacom, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF and the German Development Agency (GIZ), as well as celebrities and many ordinary young people with an extraordinary attitude to life. Celebrities took selfies with audience members, much to their delight.

The master of ceremonies was radio and television personality Bujy Bikwa, who was immediately recognised and given a warm welcome. He won the audience over by happily posing for a few selfies before the event got under way. Bikwa began his career with loveLife’s groundBREAKER programme, and represents the third cohort of this successful initiative.

The first speaker was loveLife CEO Grace Matlhape, who introduced the idea and inspiration behind iloveLife.mobi. She explained that iloveLife.mobi is a holistic youth development programme that equips young people with the skills, knowledge, insights and advice they need to navigate all aspects of life in South Africa.

“Our approach is to use popular youth culture and this platform provides that,” said Matlhape.

She said she believes that iloveLife.mobi is more than just a digital platform, describing it as “more of a friend in a young person’s pocket”. With help buttons scattered throughout the site, users can get one-on-one help anytime they need it. Just clicking on it once sends an immediate “Please Call Me” to trained counsellors at loveLife’s dedicated youth line.

Other speakers included Nicola Wertz of the German embassy, Thato Chadarikire of the National Department of Health, Fareed Abdullah of the South African National Aids Council and Busso von Alvenslebenof KfW.

Jade Archer, head of iloveLife.mobi, gave an overview of the workings of iloveLife.mobi and explained how the platform will benefit young South Africans.

Archer said over the next two years iloveLife.mobi aims to sign up at least a million users.

All the guests took part in activities making up a live demo of the website, offering them a peek into how the site engages young people in the digital world, and then gets them to take action in the real world.

Members of the audience were encouraged to measure their blood pressure and to find out their body mass index (BMI), and earn points on iloveLife.mobi for doing these activities. The launch ended with rewards for audience members who had signed up and earned points on iloveLife.mobi website during the event.

Learners from two Tembisa schools, Tswelopele Secondary School and Boitumelong High, added their own unique vibe to the event. The learners, who were led by loveLife’s very own groundBREAKERs, added a “kasi-style” feel to the evening’s proceedings.

The pupils sang, danced and played games, and were excited about signing up to iloveLife.mobi. They were intrigued by the idea of the website, and they soon signed up to complete activities and learn more about the many prizes that are up for grabs.

“Over the past 16 years we have done innovative work with young people in order to bring down HIV infections, but we need to work hard to remain relevant, we need to find new ways of doings things. With mobile technology, we literally hold the future in our hands – a safe, healthy, and inclusive future, powered by the energy and idealism of young people,” said Matlhape