Youth Club Pilot CelebrationThe latest blog by Kick4Life's Leila Hall about the successful pilot of our new Youth Club project...
The 3rd of November was an unusual Saturday at Kick4Life. On our 11-aside pitch, the outline of a massive game-board had been marked out with lime. Up on the rooftop of our new Phase II building, a temporary cafe had been set up with comfy clusters of mattresses, blankets and cool drinks available. In various rooms around the Centre, giant decks of cards stood ready.
On the 5-aside pitch, music blared as over 60 peer-educators from three high schools in Maseru gathered in excitement. Many of them had never met before, but they all had something important in common: they were all members of the first ever Kick4Life Youth Clubs. For two months, the Clubs had been meeting weekly, and this Saturday was the final session of the Club experience, an all-day event with activities designed to maximise interaction between Club members, to provide the space for them to discuss opinions and experiences, and to give them the chance to demonstrate their new, deeper knowledge of facts and issues related to HIV/AIDS.
With support from USAID, through a subgrant from PSI Letlama Project, the Kick4Life Youth Clubs were designed specifically as a follow-up to our current HIV/AIDS and life-skills curriculum, which thousands of young people in Lesotho have already graduated from. In our current curriculum, we use outdoor, soccer-based games and activities to teach key information about HIV/AIDS and to initiate important conversations about relationships, gender, risk-assessment and decision-making.
The information covered in this curriculum is vital, but as an organisation we recognised the potential to go deeper. Geared especially towards older learners, the Kick4Life Youth Club sessions take learning and understanding of issues related to HIV/AIDS to the next level. Instead of simply emphasising the importance of condom-use, for example, one of the sessions includes full condom demonstrations of how to correctly use both female and male condoms. New in-depth information on topics such as viral load, the window period, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and ARVs is covered. Our belief is that if young people truly understand HIV, they are more likely to make healthy, informed choices, and are also less likely to discriminate against or stigmatise those living with the virus. Gender is given a special focus, and participants are encouraged to debate and think critically about harmful gender norms in Lesotho: an issue which is intimately related to the spread of HIV, but which is often culturally sensitive and difficult to speak about.
The idea of future-focus is also introduced, with an entire session dedicated to encouraging participants to think about their plans and goals for the future, and especially the steps and action plans they can develop to help them achieve these.
The Youth Clubs are designed to take place in an indoor-setting, but as with our current curriculum, all the sessions are premised on interactive games and activities. Giant puzzles, playback theatre, and our very own talk show entitled The Real Deal, feature in the sessions, ensuring that the Kick4Life approach of learning while having fun is retained.
With the three pilot Youth Clubs having come to an end, the next step is to review the Curriculum and to see what worked well, and what still needs to be improved. Do we keep the sessions the same length? What activities could be simplified or extended? Once important changes have been made, the hope is to extend the Youth Club experience to many more young people in Lesotho. Next year, our focus is shifting to working especially with out-of-school youth between the ages of 18-25. With a very promising kickstart, exciting developments lie ahead for the future of the Kick4Life Youth Clubs project. Stay tuned!