Marcus, Tom, Gugu and I were privileged to receive scholarships to attend the South African AIDS Conference held earlier in the month. Tom also presented a poster about the Mixed Gender Football League, a project in which 62 out of 64 participants accessed HIV Counselling and Testing and sexual health risk assessment services at the WhizzKids United Health Academy.
At the conference it was interesting to see adolescent-focused centres of sexual health services and psychosocial support, like our WKU Health Academy, are becoming an increasing priority at the national level. In other areas where there is not a Health Academy, WhizzKids United is building capacity at local clinics by training health care professionals to provide adolescent friendly services.
Going forward we hope to integrate our school-based Life Skills and Peer Education programmes more and more with local clinics. In addition, we are planning next year to roll our successful Mixed Gender Football League model at all the schools where we work. Each new programme which we run is now focused on providing that very crucial link between school-based Life Skills and Football Programmes and access to adoescent-friendly health and counselling services.
As June's Youth Month continues, the WhizzKids United Health Academy staff are also continuing their work to raise awareness and to promote our services throughout the community.
The HIV Counselling and Testing Campaign which we began in May is still in full swing and we are continuing to add our efforts to the government target of testing 2000 in the month of June (in partnership with the Department of Health).
As you know, WhizzKids United staff have gone out on numerous HIV Counselling and Testing and Male Medical Circumcision campaigns this month in order to allow those who may not be able to get to the Health Academy to still access our services. On Friday 24th June this campaign continued with HIV Counselling and Testing in Dambuza sports ground.
This location was chosen as it is between 3 schools, therefore the youth from these schools could come to the campaign after writing their exams. The WhizzKids United Health Academy staff worked tirelessly and we were able to test 70 adolescents on the day. This is fantastic as just through our campaign, 142 youths have been test for HIV and 24 have been booked for MMC appointments in the month of June. 6 of the 142 youths have tested HIV positive, which is still a significant amount, which is why we are always working towards the promotion of HIV prevention and education. During the campaigns we emphasised the importance of knowing you status (both HIV and STI), prevention, and of course the services available at the WhizzKids United Health Academy.
To make the campaign entertaining and youthful we held a soccer competition between the youths who attended to get tested along with some of the youths who are part of our mixed gender league.
June has been a very busy and stressful month but all the work has been worthwhile when we see the number of youths who turn up to every campaign to get tested. It makes us realise that our message is getting through and only makes us want to work harder to create an HIV-free generation.
During the nationwide'Youth Month' of June the WKU Health Academy staff were able to visit young people in different areas around Edendale to speak to them about life skills and HIV and AIDS prevention.
A good example is that the WKU Health Academy staff were at the Ashdown Sports Grounds on the 8th and 15th of June 2011 as we had been invited by the Ashdown United football team to speak to them during their football event. We also brought some children who had been the best performers in the Mixed Gender Football League so that they could take part in the event and play football with Ashdown FC. During these events we held HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) which resulted in 25 players testing for HIV. This was the highlight of the football event and Youth Month and was a fun-filled day for the children of the WKU Health Academy football team as they were able to learn football and life skills from the older youths who were present. In my opinion, this was the true essence of Youth Month and really allowed children who had been involved in Health Academy activities to spread the word and enjoy learning from others in a new setting.
We encourage young people to go out and test for HIV and know their status, and the feedback was extremely encouraging due to the number of people who came forward to get tested. They were also given information about the services provided by the WKU Health Academy and therefore not only were we able to ensure that these adolescents could find out their status and learn to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but also to ensure that they would be able to continue with this by accessing the services the Health Academy has to offer to the youth in and around Edendale.
It is important to reach youths that would not generally come to the Health Academy, due to distance or even lack of knowledge as it allows us them to find out who we are and to gain extremely beneficial services, including life skills which help them to maintain a healthy and HIV-free life.
Firstly, I would like to thank Marcus, Jabu Zulu, Busi Madondo, Gugu Mofokeng, and the rest of the staff at the WhizzKids United Health Academy for all their guidance and support. When I think back to the time when I first joined the team, I came empty-handed, but today my hands are full of tasks, and not only that, but my mind is now full of the knowledge and skills that I have gained since joining the team.
When I first joined I was trained on the 3-session Life Skills Manual and would like to say 'big up' and thank you to Aled and Michael, you guys rock!
I have also been able to attend an HIV Counselling and Testing course at AIDS Training, Information, and Counselling Centre (ATICC). I am now a trained Counsellor, and have been working with other Health Academy staff on our HCT Outreach Campaigns, and this is the reason I joined WhizzKids United, to help those who otherwise would not be able to receive these services we provide.
Lastly, but by no means least, I took a good long drive to Jozini with Marcus last weekend, where we spent the night at the Ophondweni Youth Development Centre, we were due to run a Youth Friendly Service workshop there the next day, only to find out that the workshop had to be postponed, so we were able to spend the day chilling out by the lake, this was the first time I had ever seen such a big river and it was amazing. The following day we went to Ophondweni again and were able to start the workshop with the Community HealthCare Workers. I was able to gain a huge amount of information, we also ran an adolescence programme where, again, I was able to learn a lot of things about the issues and challenges we all go through when we reach that stafe of life.
It was quite an expereince going there, I gained a lot that I will be able to share with the kids at the Health Academy.
At the end of May, our co-ordinator for the Orphans and Vulnerable Children programme (OVC), Nobuhle, and Health Academy Manager, Jabu, attended a Sunday church service in the City International Church in Ashdown. Following the all day service, the church allowed our two committed ladies to introduce the WhizzKids United Health Academy to the young people attending.
Nobuhle and Jabu used the given time to talk about services at the Health Academy which are accessible for young people. Services at the Health Academy include:
All in all, 30 adolescents were attending the church service that day and were informed about the healthcare possibilities in the nearby situated Health Academy. It is a huge success that Nobuhle and Jabu were able to welcome the majority of these children at the Health Academy a few days later.
Thanks to the commitment of Nobuhle and Jabu, WhizzKids United is able to give support to 30 more adolescents in need.
By Phakamani Nguse
I travelled to Jozini on the 21st to the 26th of May 2011 to attend and help facilitate the running of workshops for the WhizzKids United staff and Clinic Nurses in the area in order to ensure the effective running of Youth Frieddly Services.
We arrived at our accommodation, Lebombo Lodge on Sunday evening and began teaching the Ophondweni Youth Development Initiative staff on the 23rd and 24th of May.
The topics we covered were: programme objectives, programme strategy, the need of the programme, the method, stakeholders, the WhizzKids United Health Academy Services, WKU overview, stages of adolesence, why HIV prevention can fail, the challenges we face in the community, understanding adolescents and pre- and post-counselling of an adolescent.
On the 25th and 26th May 2011 the same topics were covered with the nurses from clinics in Ophondweni, Khwambuzi, Nondabuya, and Ndumo.
I was also able to meet staff from AMREF, the Ophondweni Youth Development Initiative, and Hascvold in Jozini. It was wonderful to meet so many different people, especially the nurses whom I was able to share information and opinions with.
Jozini was a place I thought of going to. It is a great pleasure for WhizzKids United staff like myself to be given the opportunity to go to Jozini to introduce the Youth Friendly Services to the community there. I feel that they will take it as a challenge to their community and their clinics and ensure that all clinics are able to deal with youth by developing Youth Friendly Services.