Our Monthly Photo Competition for November on our Facebook Poll is finished and the winner has been decided. Congratulations to our German volunteer Marlen - great shot. She has taken the winning picture on one of our Tournaments in Umlazi last month. Every staff member has to upload pictures which were taken by themselves and in the current month. Afterwards our WhizzKids United Facebook members can vote for their favourite picture.
You didn’t know where and how to vote?
Check out our Facebook page and become a WhizzKids United Fan. All you have to do is click on the “Like” button and then you are able to vote on our poll. We are looking forward to our next Monthly Photo Competition and I hope that you will support us voting for your favourite picture in the beginning of January again. Our staff will upload their favourite holiday shots. It's going to be very international. You can expect pictures from America, Germany, Scotland, Mozambique and last but not least, South Africa.
On Monday and Tuesday this week, all the office staff attended the 7th World Conference on Youth, Culture and Sport at the International Convention Centre. It was interesting to meet and hear from delegates from different member states all over the world talking about sport for development. One of the speakers talked about the power of storytelling and getting feedback directly from programme beneficiaries.
Our programme has just finished the first year of operations in Jozini and here is some of the qualitative feedback that we have received from the children that took part in the programme.
"I would like to say that thank you to WhizzKids United they do a wonderful things thanks a lot, God be with you" "I think that the WhizzKids it good for my life." "I would like to say we are very happy cause we learnt more about HIV/AIDS and we enjoyed football drills,I am so proud for you WhizzKids United." "What I have improving in the WhizzKids United is to know how to play a football and to stand in positions,in HIV/AIDS I have learned about how to protect yourself when you having sex and to wer condom." "WhizzKids is the rock" "You helped me to set up my goal." "I think the WhizzKids United improved things that happen in my life." "Whizzkids United you changed our lives not to be involved in crime." "I wish to be the part of the WKU with all my heart" "I like the WKU because they protected my education" "I hope you are doing a great job WKU staff" "I thank you for your experienced that you gave us was more compare to our teachers" "I would like to say thank you to WKU we loved you"
It is 2pm in the afternoon and the previous quiet of the clinic is suddenly filled with the sounds of excited children pulling off their school sweaters in order to prepare for the afternoons football tournament. As a practising clinical psychologist in the UK it takes a bit of getting used to the idea that football games are a completely normal event in this exceptional clinic which is the only one of its kind on the African continent. Here, football is an integral component to the way clinical and psychosocial services are considered and delivered. Football is utilised as the mechanism to encourage participation in the Life Skills programme. Young people are taught about the importance of setting goals, developing strategies to achieve those goals, knowing ones strengths and working with others in mutually respectful ways. I have been working with the staff for two weeks from the 15th to the 26th of November about how basic counseling skills can be incorporated into the work of all the staff so that this unique clinic can further develop its approach to HIV care for both HIV+ and HIV- youngsters.
The clinic emphasizes specialist training and development for all staff because unlike the pediatric specialty, for example, adolescence as a medical or psychological speciality is underdeveloped. The WhizzKids United Health Academy aims to address the specific issues of HIV care and prevention for this particular age group and to date specialist training has focused on topics such as psychological stages of development, advanced counseling skills with adolescents, the use of motivational interviewing techniques to address issues of adherence, counseling for sexual behavior change and the particular developmental challenges for young people who are already HIV+. Training sessions have been held in the morning when the young people are at school and the approach has been a mixture of teaching, role plays and group discussion. The staff have embraced the sessions enthusiastically and have brought many of their clinical issues for consideration and discussion. The interface of HIV, poverty and deprivation and the threat of, or actual sexual violence present huge challenges for the Health Academy staff but they face these issues with a mixture of skill, determination to make a difference and good humour. However, in the face of such difficulty staff burnout is a real concern and mechanisms require development to ensure that well trained staff are supported to carry out this vital work.
The scale of the HIV epidemic in South Africa amongst young people is enormous but the model of psychosocial care developed by the WhizzKids Health Academy is one which can be replicated across the country. Skills already exist within the South African health and NGO communities to further develop and deliver this approach. However, the biggest challenge faced by both organizations and staff members is adapting to a youth centred clinical focus. Adolescents are neither children nor mini adults and the pace of physical, emotional and cognitive change during this period of life requires that HIV programmes adapt to meet their specific needs. WhizzKids Health Academy is a beacon of hope and expertise with regards to what CAN be achieved by innovation, flexibility and the will to make a difference to the lives of South Africa's young people.
Monday began bright and early with the alarm ringing at 4:15am. The day started with a drive to pick up Siphelele (a Life Skills Trainer) in Umlazi and Zanele (an office employee) near Kwa-Mashu. Then we embarked on a long drive up to Jozini. We made the trip to Jozini to run 2 tournaments in 2 days before returning to Durban for the World AIDS Day Tournament being held at the office.
Monday and Tuesday's tournaments were great learning experiences for not only myself but also Sizwe and Thabane (two Life Skills Trainers from Jozini) as it was their first 2 days of tournaments they had to run with WhizzKids United. It was such a pleasure to travel to Jozini with Siphelele, not only because it was his first time to such a rural area but also because he was able to use his experience in running tournaments to help our Jozini Trainers. After two long days of tournaments and several hundred post-questionnaires completed we made the 4 hour drive back to Durban!
Wednesday, as I am sure you know, was International World AIDS Day! We at WhizzKids United had planned for a World Cup style tournament with some of our partners and also other corporate companies. The event was a fundraiser for WhizzKids United and a great chance to enlighten other companies of the work that we do, but in an enjoyable way! Michael and myself were booted off the WhizzKids Team and ended up playing with an all-girls high school in Durban, called our Lady of Fatima. We represented Portugal, and quickly made Portugal proud. We made it to the semi-finals of the tournament before losing in a hard faught battle to Spain. The day was a huge success and a very enjoyable tournament for everyone who took part but most of all it was a great way to spread the word of HIV/AIDS, and the work we are doing here at WhizzKids United.
After a long day of work on Wednesday and a late night cleaning up after the tournament, Thursday morning started at 4:00am when the alarm rang! Michael and I were on our way back to Jozini to run another tournament all day before driving back to Durban in the evening.The tournament on Thursday was the best tournament I have seen so far!!! The school we were working in , Bhekindoda Primary School, had closed for the day and all the students were out enjoying the tournament that was taking place. The teachers and the other students all got behind their fellow students and cheered England to victory. After a fantastic day of play and over 280 hotdogs handed out to feed the children at the school, we were on our way back to Durban, just in time for dinner!
As I am sure you can tell it has been a really tough week for me, running 4 tournaments in 4 days and travelling over 16 hours this week, I really think I have earned my weekend!