Sport and Play as tools for HIV/Aids awareness raising for young people
August 1, 2010
This project will create awareness among children and young people, aged 12-25, in Juba, South Sudan, on HIV/AID prevention, breaking down the stigma and equipping young people with life skills to enable them resist peer pressure and make right choice to live healthy life. 10,000 children and young people, including returnees, refugees and former child soldiers will have access to HIV/Aids prevention message through sport and play programmes. The outreach will be conducted through teachers, peer educators (aged 12-17), schools and community centres to ensure the health messages are far reaching.
South Sudan has emerged from a 21 year conflict with a rapidly growing and very young population but without the necessary infrastructure, especially for education and health services. The influx of refugees and former child soldiers returning home has made the situation all the more acute. A dangerous lack of awareness of HIV/AIDs and its prevention means that children and young people are extremely vulnerable to contracting the infection. There are also high levels of stigma, discrimination and denial regarding HIV/AIDs, as well as polygamy, widespread sexual and gender-based violence that increase the risks for children and young people.
The first phase will be to build the capacity of local volunteers, (30 teachers and youth volunteers and 50 peer educators) to enable them to lead sport and play activities that teach HIV/AIDS prevention message and to create peer educator groups that enable peers to speak openly about sensitive issues. The second phase will mobilise the community to address HIV/AIDS issues and traditional harmful practices that promote HIV/AIDS infection. This will involve; play days, sport tournaments in key locations, focus group discussions with youth & children’s groups, debates in schools and the wider community, as well as campaigning in collaboration with the AIDS Commission on International World AIDS Day.
Right to Play’s aim is to improve the lives of children in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world by using the power of sport and play for development, health and peace. REI previously funded a Community Health Promotion Initiative project in Juba, which enhanced the capacity of youth groups and local community to take lead in environmental sanitation and general hygiene awareness raising and prevention of communicable diseases.
South Sudan is a country that emerged from 21 years civil war which claimed thousands of lives. Southern Sudan covers an estimated 640,000 square kilometres and shares borders with five countries with high prevalence of HIV/AIDS: Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia.
South Sudan’s population is growing rapidly, but crucially 60 percent of Southern Sudanese are under the age of 18, making the risk of an HIV/Aids epidemic all the higher, without proper health education and awareness.
For this project, Right To Play conducted two day workshops on HIV/Aids and a 5 day training course on “Live Safe Play Safe” for teachers and youths. These workshops and training courses helped to spread knowledge, skills, and importantly awareness by using sport and play as tools to engage young people in the issue.
Regular sport and play activities were hosted for children twice or more per week. Over the course of the year, more than 10,000 youths regularly participated in these activities. 50 of these youths, including 5 girls, were given the opportunity to become ‘Junior Leaders.’ These 50 youths were given extra training from coaches and teachers.
This project has helped to challenge the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS. Right To Play has seen many people gain the courage to talk about these sensitive issues. Due to the increased awareness, some community members have even challenged some traditions.
Jusaya Othow, a 14 year old Junior Leader, has learned many things from Right To Play. He knows that those who contract HIV will ultimately die because there is no cure and that the disease is spread many ways. Because of this he continues to conduct activities with children and advocates that sharing things such as razor blades, needles and syringes is dangerous.
“HIV/AIDS is unknown to many people because of lack of knowledge, inaccessibility to information, poor ways of disseminating messages and cultural misconceptions of opposing open discussions about the disease with children.”Jusaya Othow (RTP Junior Leader; Age 14)