Using school clubs to influence behaviour modification and stigma reduction among Jamaican youths
National Aids Committee, Kingston, Jamaica
Jamaican society has been flooded with information on safer sex practices. Despite the large input of resources and
efforts geared towards behaviour change, the HIV prevalence rate remains high at
1.8% of the population (among the 15-49 age group), and alarming rates of 1%
and 6% among children of the 10-14 and 15-19 age groups respectively. The
Trelawny Parish AIDS Association (TPAA) believes that early interventions
targeting preadolescents and adolescents to positively influence behaviour
formation are critical to effectively reducing infection rates overall.
Description: A 3-year
pilot project was conducted in 9 primary schools in the parish of Trelawny,
Jamaica, with over 150 children between the ages of 9 and 12 years. The primary objective was comparing the
attitudes of students in positive behaviour formation programmes with students
who did not participate. The pilot
project involved the combination of dance, drama, and song, to create an initiative
dubbed “Sounds of Change”.
Lessons learned: Participants
became confident in speaking about HIV/AIDS and its impacts, the power of choice,
and the benefits of reduced discrimination.
The techniques involved in Sounds
of Change appear to be successful tools, educating not only participants
and their peers, but also reaching older adolescents and parents. On average, students in the programme reported
delaying sex, with some opting for, and encouraging abstinence among peers. As a result, the programme's scope has been
broadened to include older youths (from 13-18 years old), through HIV Awareness
Clubs launched in all 7 secondary/high schools in Trelawny.
Next steps: TPAA
is working with schools to expand the programme, providing continuing support
for adolescents as they mature, and adopting systems to quantitatively measure
success. It is envisioned that Sounds of Change may serve as a model
for national implementation, helping to permanently change the landscape of
AIDS in Jamaica.
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