Youth Leadership Development Programme
As loveLife defines health as the complete wellbeing of a person; absent of disease, mentally sound and socially grounded, Youth Leadership Development is a critical pillar in the work that we do with young people. The loveLife 3C construct where we want to see young people Complete, Creative and Connected comes to play in the YLD pillar of loveLife. We realise that encouraging young people to steer away from harmful behaviours that affect their physical health without ensuring that they receive psychosocial support as well as training and access to opportunities is only going half the distance in ensuring that young people are healthy and succeed in life.
The programme is implemented by loveLife groundBREAKERs across the country. The outcomes of the programme are increased physical fitness and activity that is maintained in the long term, young people making better health choices and sexual choices as well as increased appraisement of differences and respect.
We also specifically target adults (coaches, teachers, parents) to assist with sustaining these changes in their daily engagements with their athletes and youth participants in general. These community coaches, parents and teachers are known as adult allies. Coaches are of particular importance to us because of the frequent and consistent access they have with young people who are already participating in sports. We see this access as an opportunity for coaches to play an important role in promoting healthy lifestyles among their teams. In order to empower coaches to communicate new information on NCDs and HIV among athletes and enable them to positively influence behaviour change, we train them on a holistic coaching programme called Coach4Life. Through this programme, participants (adult allies) are developed as life coaches, who can adequately instil positive values on healthy living both in terms of taking care of your body and in staying Healthy. We train adult allies to see themselves as role models to the young sports people. The manner in which coaches conduct their personal lives; how they eat, how they train and how they carry themselves whether they are HIV positive or not is crucial to the young players, who look up to them for guidance. We also work with coaches as mentors. If trained and supported well, coaches can provide guidance to the team members who seek their support around NCDs and HIV. Coaches can also provide information on where, how and when to access specific services including accessing condoms, seeking psychosocial support, testing for STIs and others.
We also enlist the support of sports stars who have made names for themselves in their communities and country across all sporting codes. We understand the power of their celebrated status and the influence they have on young athletes. We particularly seek to partner with positive influencers who can speak comfortably about healthy living and live up to the values and behaviours we seek to instil. These celebrated sportsmen and women are provided with a basic loveLife training that orients them to the work we do and the change we want to see among youth and we allow them to convey these messages in their own way at events that reach up to thousands of young people.
loveLife groundBREAKERs also support all Department of Sport, Arts and Culture events with Edutainment where health, wellbeing and nutrition is discussed with athletes and spectators on the day through motivational talks, fun activities, Mobile Y-Centre (MYC) activations, song and dance. The partnership with the department that allows loveLife messaging to be shared at sport and recreation events allows loveLife to have access to a large audience of young people at one time due to the popularity of sport events but also it allows for sport to play an important role in social change and youth leadership development.