MU-JHU’s Young Generation Alive (YGA) is a youth-led group of more than 300 members which has a: Vision: to lay a foundation, build bridges and create hope for a brighter future for children and youth affected and infected by HIV/AIDS, and a Mission: To improve the well-being of children and youth infected and affected by HIV/AIDS through the provision of psycho-social support, nutrition and education support, medical care and social inclusion.
MU-JHU realised early that children and young people’s psychosocial needs were different from their parents. HIV infected children and adolescents identified stigma and discrimination at home and at school as an important issue. Largely as a result, a substantial number of children were depressed, had low self-esteem, performed poorly or had dropped out of school, with poor adherence to medications and treatment. Thus MU-JHU started the children and youth Psychosocial Program known as the ‘Young Generation Alive’ (YGA) to address the unique psychosocial challenges of children and young persons living with HIV/AIDS.
A central pillar of this program is the monthly facilitated group psychosocial support meetings, in 5 years more than 4,500 children and youth have attended with an average of ~80 attendees/month. Since 2006, we have also implemented age-group specific activities to cater for the different needs of the children, teens and older age groups.
Many have greatly appreciated these forums and found them life-changing. There has been a substantial measurable increase in the self-esteem of YGA members using the ‘Rosenberg Scale’ from 20% in 2006 to 60% in 2010 among the same 103 YGA members. The YGA has enabled many of the children and youth living with HIV to overcome internalized stigma and build their self-esteem as evidenced in myriad ways such as their increasing openness and peer leadership in the psychosocial support groups, readiness to talk about and accept their HIV status, and participate in HIV care and treatment panel discussions at conferences among others, we, therefore, propose to continue with these group psychosocial support meetings.
We have seen these adolescents grow in their confidence and self-esteem which is further boosted by the positive feedback from their peers resulting in a positive feedback cycle encouraging further growth and providing positive role models for younger children.
Most importantly the meaningful engagement of young people has put them in the forefront in the fight against HIV, with the adolescents/youth being able to design programs for adolescents and youth by the adolescents/youth.
MUJHU YGA meets every second Saturday of every month and different activities take place. During the meeting, the group is divided into three groups that are 5-11.
To support, please contact Charles Kiganda, Youth Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org