Sunderland University graduate creates board game to help those with serious addictions

Joojo Kyei-Sarpong with his board game Inspirado.
Joojo Kyei-Sarpong with his board game Inspirado.

A Sunderland University graduate is looking for funding to manufacture a board game he has created which helps people living with drug and alcohol addiction.

Since studying for a Master’s degree in Public Health at the University of Sunderland in 2010, Joojo Kyei-Sarpong has spent the past seven years working with individuals in recovery across the North East’s pharmacies, recovery centres, rehabilitation and homeless hostels.

Board game Inspirado.

Board game Inspirado.

Fuelled by a passion to support those with addiction as well as the loss of a friend through a drug overdose, Joojo decided to pursue a career as a substance misuse practitioner.

And it was during the degree that Joojo’s idea to create a resource that supports group therapy in substance misuse treatment, combined with his passion for graphic design, which led to the board game, Inspirado.

The game is an interactive intervention programme designed to build recovery from substance misuse, raise awareness, reduce stigma and break down boundaries to accessing support for substance misuse treatment and mental health.

So far it has received a positive response at all its play-testing sessions with recovery professionals with over 75% of participants finding it beneficial.

Inspirado.

Inspirado.

Ghanaian-born Joojo, 35, explained: “With a health degree and self-taught graphic design skills, my approach to coaching has always been illustrative and compassionate, using everyday examples to help clients understand behaviour change. “I am passionate about supporting and coaching clients to achieve their recovery goals.

“The bedrock of this profession is care.

“This led me to further research into the effectiveness of health promotional materials within the city of Sunderland, making health information accessible, attractive, and easy to understand and engaging.

“This motivated me to create the game as an intervention, with the potential to be a resource for substance misuse treatment services as well as rehabs, correctional facilities, schools, colleges, homeless hostels, recovery cafés and many more.”

Dr Catherine Hayes, former programme leader for the MSc Public Health at Sunderland University.

Dr Catherine Hayes, former programme leader for the MSc Public Health at Sunderland University.

Players of the game begin their journey as a caterpillar, to eventually finish as a butterfly.

The journey is navigated through a series of event tiles on the boat in which ‘moral chips’ can be rewarded, which serve as recovery capital or learned skills.

Dr Catherine Hayes, former programme leader for the MSc Public Health at the university, said: “Joojo is a prime example of how students of the MSc Public Health here at Sunderland use what they have learned to make a tangible civic impact at a regional, national and global level.

“He has dedicated his professional life since completing the programme to the empowerment of those living with addiction.”

Inspirado is currently on Kickstarter crowdfunding website to raise £5,000 for the manufacture of the first set of the game.

The full details of the game can be found at http://kck.st/2eUnl7K.

Joojo has spent the last 11 months working at the Northumberland Recovery Partnership, previously he spent almost two years working at the Drug and Alcohol Service in Durham.