RESEARCH | 2015

TEACHING | 2015

Using play to address health & safety issues for adolescent girls

Introducing human-centered design to government employees

SAY NO MORE

LAB @ OPM (OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT)

ABOUT

Say No More is a preventative educational tool that helps educate both early-teen girls and social workers on sex trafficking. The game helps better assess, identify and empower girls ages 12-15 who may be at risk of, or are currently being trafficked.

The Lab at the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is both a practice and a space that fosters innovation through human-centered design. Because OPM serves an HR function within government, the Lab has always emphasized the importance of teaching and training.

CHALLENGE

As a graduate student enrolled in a course on games for change, my classmate Robin Newman challenged me to reflect on simple but powerful question: could we somehow create a game that helps tackle the issue of domestic sex trafficking? Something people would be willing to play? Together with Michelle Kwon, we tackled this idea for over a year.

The Lab at the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is both a practice and a space that fosters innovation through human-centered design. Because OPM serves an HR function within government, the Lab has always emphasized the importance of teaching and training.

RESEARCH METHODS

  • Expert interviews with students, social workers and trafficking survivors
  • Personas
  • Participatory design
  • Stakeholder mapping
  • Surveys
  • Competitive analysis
  • Playtesting, including at the Feast Conference and at local high schools and with game experts from NYU

We ultimately created a curriculum that emphasized:

  • Breaking down complex problems to understand their root causes
  • How root causes impact the people we serve
  • Why human behavior might inform potential solutions
  • The use of rapid prototyping to learn about and develop potential solutions to complex challenges

Over the three-day course, I helped students understand the importance of mindsets and design methodologies. Since the course was experential, I prepared students for qualitative research and led them through the design synthesis and prototyping.

 

ROLE 

I led all strategy and business management for for the game, including managing the $20,000 budget for our 500 game pilot test.  

Michelle Kwon led all design aspects of the project, including UI and production of the physical game.

Robin Newman led our partnerships and playtesting coordination.

As a Design Strategist at the Lab, I was part of both the curriculum and teaching teams. 

RESEARCH INSIGHTS

  • Girls who are at-risk or currently being trafficked show clear verbal and non-verbal indicators. Sample indicators include: changes in emotional health, inconsistencies in stories, wearing excessive makeup and carrying multiple cell phones.

  • Adults in a position to intervene are often unaware of the warning signs of a trafficking victim. While professionals may recognize changes in those they serve, they are often unable to fully understand that trafficking might be part of the issue.

  • Victims rarely self-identify. Social workers and educators need tools that help them assess and understand the verbal and non-verbal signs of a victim of trafficking.

  • There are very few anti-trafficking initiatives that aim to reach the most likely victims of trafficking, girls ages 12-16. There are incredible legal advocacy organizations and programs for women and girls who left or escaped trafficking, but there are very few preventative campaigns, programs and tools that target the most likely potential victims.

We ultimately created a curriculum that emphasized:

  • Breaking down complex problems to understand their root causes
  • How root causes impact the people we serve
  • Why human behavior might inform potential solutions
  • The use of rapid prototyping to learn about and develop potential solutions to complex challenges

Over the three-day course, I helped students understand the importance of mindsets and design methodologies. Since the course was experential, I prepared students for qualitative research and led them through the design synthesis and prototyping.

 

IMG_0017
IMG_0477

PROTOTYPE

Our research resulted in a card game that is meant to be played with pre-teen girls and social workers.

For pre-teen girls at risk of sex trafficking, Say No More allows them to:

● Reflect on healthy relationship boundaries. All of the game content comes from real-life trafficking survivors’ stories, but it's not clear to those playing the game unless they are explicitly told.
● Learn to practice saying no and better understand how to assert themselves.

For social workers, the game helps them:

● Easily understand the issue of trafficking in the United States.
● Familiarize themselves with the warning signs that at-risk girls demonstrate. The game comes with a suggested curriculum and resource guide.
● Start a larger conversation about relationships and gently introduce the topic of trafficking to the girls they work with.

The game included two decks of cards, a check-in card, directions and a guide for social workers on the broader issue of trafficking of adolescent girls. 

We ultimately created a curriculum that emphasized:

  • Breaking down complex problems to understand their root causes
  • How root causes impact the people we serve
  • Why human behavior might inform potential solutions
  • The use of rapid prototyping to learn about and develop potential solutions to complex challenges

Over the three-day course, I helped students understand the importance of mindsets and design methodologies. Since the course was experential, I prepared students for qualitative research and led them through the design synthesis and prototyping.

 

game-components-v2
rules-3

IMPACT

Say No More won a 2014 Sappi Ideas That Matter Grant for nearly $20,000 in partnership with ECPAT-USA. Through the grant, we were able to produce 500 games to pilot and test with social workers, educators and teenage girls in urban areas across the United States.

I was selected for the first Fellowship for Young Women Entrepreneurs in Jordan in 2015, a program of the Open Hands Initiative. The two week entrepreneurship boot camp and pitch day provided an opportunity to better understand how to understand the potential market for Say No More and think more deeply about a business model.

Our team has ultimately decided not to pursue funding, but to make our game open source and free to all.

 

After the success of the course revamp, a Director of Education role was created at the Lab to focus on building and creating more content and courses about design in the public sector.

Because of the team's commitment to creating a hands-on and contextual course, we were invited to tailor our course content for VA Hospital staff through the VA Innovation Lab. I co-taught our course to nurses, doctors and administrators in Biloxi, Jackson, Milwaukee and San Francisco.

To date, more than 2,000 federal employees have taken design courses offered at the Lab.  

"It's so simple, but it's such an effective tool. It can reach someone who knows nothing about sex crimes to someone who has seen it all. It's a great tool to start a conversation, and this game is a perfect starting point. How did no one think of this before?"
– Trafficking Survivor

"I wanted to tell you how incredible the fundamentals class was. I enrolled hoping to gather some more tools/skills to when I facilitate projects & workshops, but I got SO MUCH MORE than that. I love the process we learned & the way it was taught."

Box

WORK

WORK

RESEARCH

RESEARCH

RESEARCH

RESEARCH

Applying ethnography to scale social change

Applying ethnography to scale social change

Applying ethnography to scale social change

Bridge International Academies

Bridge International Academies

Bridge International Academies

Bridge International Academies

UX

UX

UX

UX

Building a non-profit's first digital product

Building a non-profit's first digital product

Building a non-profit's first digital product

Cool Culture

Cool Culture

Cool Culture

UX

UX

UX

UX

Improving usability for millions of job seekers

Improving usability for millions of job seekers

Improving usability for millions of job seekers

Improving usability for millions of job seekers

USAJOBS.gov

USAJOBS.gov

USAJOBS.gov

RESEARCH

RESEARCH

RESEARCH

RESEARCH

Using play to address health & safety issues for adolescent girls

Using play to address health & safety issues for adolescent girls

Using play to address health & safety issues for adolescent girls

ECPAT-USA

ECPAT-USA

ECPAT-USA

SERVICE

SERVICE

SERVICE

SERVICE

Championing empathy as a strategy to reduce costs

Championing empathy as a strategy to reduce costs

Championing empathy as a strategy to reduce costs

CFPB

CFPB

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

UI

UI

UI

UI

Operationalizing design for a new product team

Operationalizing design for a new product team

Operationalizing design for a new product team

Federal Reserve

Federal Reserve

Federal Reserve

Federal Reserve

TEACHING

TEACHING

TEACHING

TEACHING

Helping students solve problems using creative mindsets & methodologies

Helping students solve problems using creative mindsets & methodologies

Helping students solve problems using creative mindsets & methodologies

IDEO U

IDEO U

Medic Mobile