OVSA supports adolescent high-school learners in Grades 8 and 10, to understand what choices/behaviours put their lives at risk. We do this by actively engaging young people on a high-energy, age-appropriate series of Life Skills workshops, that address the need for health awareness and knowledge, coupled to a critical mind - to challenge existing practices and ask questions to effect change.
Why Life Skills?
Being a young person in South Africa can’t always be easy. Growing up is a journey often burdened with the effects of a seemingly unrelenting, dual, HIV/TB epidemic, and educational systems are still recovering from the country’s previous inequalities. Not to mention issues of poverty, unemployment and now, Covid-19. Youth are faced with so many needs and challenges in this era of diverse global challenges that it is crucial to put in place effective life skills interventions that equip young people, especially girls, with the skills to cope with and address the many critical health and lifestyle issues impacting on their lives, daily. Without the learning of life skills, young people can struggle when it comes to basic real-world responsibilities.
The Life Skills Project engages some 3000 adolescent learners per annum, and consists of 14 in-depth workshops focusing on HIV/AIDS, TB, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), Gender, WASH, leadership, Career Guidance and Human Rights issues. The project highlights the importance of saying ‘NO’ if you are being coerced into something you don’t want to do, addresses HIV stigma, recognising TB symptoms early, and HIV prevention and HIV epidemic drivers, such as multiple concurrent partners. Workshop content is developed by educational specialists in support of the Department of Basic Education’s (DBE) Life Orientation (LO) Curriculum and educational outcomes. Using participatory methodology to deliver age-appropriate content founded on Social Change Communication principles, learners are actively engaged on addressing health and lifestyle challenges. Supported by a Youth Advisory Board (YAB) in each school, the end-of-year Advocacy Project activity, encourages learners to move beyond the classroom and develop a sense of self in society and their ability to facilitate change, by identifying a critical challenge in their community, and designing and implementing a targeted response.