The WKU Health Academy wants to reach out to as many youth in the Greater Edendale area as possible so they can receive our holistic wellness services and join us in our efforts to create future generations free from HIV and AIDS. If you remember, we blogged in August about the start of our Community Outreach Programme and since then we have had success in our efforts to increase awareness and attendance at our Health Academy.
We have continued going door-to-door to speak with people at their homes as well as meet community members in the streets of Edendale, Machibisa, Dambuza, Ashdown, and Imbali. We have also approached many local businesses to develop relationships in order for them to promote our services and offer support. We understand that in order for the WKU Health Academy to be known in the community we have to go out and reach people.
During our outreach, the WKU Health Academy staff explains our services to those we meet and gives them a chance to ask questions. We have met many parents who are keen on our mission at the Health Academy and express that they like the services we offer our clients. Some parents have said that they will encourage their children to go to the Health Academy. We invite the parents we meet to come and visit to see where their children receive services and obtain health information.
The next phase of our outreach is to target more youth at schools in Greater Edendale. There are many schools we want to reach, but they are not within walking distance to the Health Academy and the children lack the means to be transported. WKU is blessed to proudly report that we now own a 7-passenger Condor, thanks to our loyal supports, Canada-Africa Prevention Trials Network (CAPTN). With this vehicle, we will be able to transport children to allow those from farther away to access the Health Academy, receive our services, and participate in recreational activities. WKU is excited about this opportunity and we look forward to welcoming new children to the Health Academy.
All of us at the Health Academy are delighted that since we started the Community Outreach Programme in August, the number of clients have increased and we are prepared to give the new attendees the quality services they expect. The feedback we receive from the children at the Health Academy motivates us even more to continue our outreach efforts. Current Health Academy attendees stated that they find it hard to talk to their parents about risk behaviours, so it helps to speak to one of the nurses or counsellors at the Health Academy about problems they encounter. This is one of the many ways we aim to help the children of Greater Edendale. Through our outreach, we strive to touch more lives like the ones we have and continue to make positive impacts.
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.