Cultivating Fans of Global Health
“Wellness” is empowering. When you think of wellness, you think of all the things you are doing right by your body, mind and spirit. You think of the power and choices you have made to be well. Wellness is wealthy, it’s abundant, it’s the haves…not the have-nots.
“Disease” renders you powerless. It’s a problem, an obstacle, a consequence of something you did wrong, a wrong committed against you. You are victim to the disease, pulled down to its level of pain, hardship, hate and fear. Disease is the have-nots.
Disease strips individuals of agency. Wellness allows them to make their own decisions.
A New Approach to Disease
But what if we could approach disease the way we approach wellness? What if we felt empowered when learning about diseases, their prevention, detection and treatment? Instead of paralyzed by fear, we were energized by possibility, by action and by choice?
Let’s imagine, for a moment, that we could see disease beyond its dismal characteristics. Beyond its suffering. What is it about the disease that could allow us to no longer be victims…but rather victors?
A Hero’s Quest
I propose that the framework for disease, like any violence against the human condition, can be an opportunity for agency. A chance to be empowered by choices. A hero’s quest to find a solution, a treatment, a cure.
Wellness is about information and choice. To have choices, we must have access to information. Health literacy and bodily integrity give individuals greater bodily autonomy — decision making power over their own bodies and treatments.
Yet in 2019, children are still unable to identify the parts of their bodies, access to misinformation is more readily available than accurate health literature, science and medical jargon remains elitist and hidden in ivory towers of academia. It’s no wonder that FitBit, juicing, cross fit, detox teas and new age diet trends are more popular than basic public health information. Consumer-facing wellness products offer opportunities and choices — even communities and fandoms. Disease and global health feel abysmal in comparison.
Global Health Fans & Augmented Reality
This is why I have made it my mission to cultivate fans of global health. I aim to flip the status quo of the fear-based approach of medicine, instead empowering communities of co-creators — learning, engaging and making informed choices about global health. These fans are victors, not victims of disease.
In 2019, we will launch our build of the AR mobile game, Virus Hunters. Players are disease detectives — identifying and battling pathogens, while also developing treatment and vaccines. (Patho)physiology is organically woven into the character driven game, as well as real time health alerts that connect learning with action. We cultivate fans of disease detection. We allow players to make their own choices for their health. We create space to play, learn and flourish.
Virus Hunters is just the tip of the iceberg for co-creative solutions to global health. We look forward to seeing what we can accomplish at the intersections of interactivity, global health and agency.
Ari Mostov is a trans-media producer, activist and social entrepreneur. She is passionate about global health and timeless entertainment. For more information about Ari and Virus Hunters, visit her website: www.zamarra.org or follow her on twitter @arimostov.