The Star Late Edition

Children to benefit from behavioura­l change programme


TO ASSIST children aged 10 to 14 from Ekurhuleni hostels, the Deputy Minister of Social Developmen­t, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, will start ChommY, a social and behavioura­l change campaign, tomorrow in the Vosloorus Civic Centre in collaborat­ion with USAid.

Observed under the theme “Invest in My Future, Protect Me Today”, ChommY strives to produce knowledge, build skills and empower young people to make educated choices in order to reduce the high frequency of HIV infections, substance misuse, and teenage pregnancie­s.

Bogopane-Zulu said ChommY in the City of Ekurhuleni was being launched in the context of the department’s You Only Live Once (Yolo) programme, which was launched in 2015 to educate young people between the ages of 15 and 24 about HIV/Aids, chronic disease, substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, and being agents of social change. Yolo was establishe­d as part of the department’s Comprehens­ive Strategy on HIV and Aids.

Bogopane-Zulu said: “According to Statistics South Africa’s 2018 HIV Prevalence Report, HIV prevalence among youth aged 15 to 24 declined over time from 6.7% in 2002 to 5.5% in 2018. Despite the decline, to date, HIV infections among the youth remain relatively high, and this is hugely attributed to the behavioura­l, social, and structural drivers of HIV, which contribute to youth being vulnerable to the HIV and Aids pandemic.

“Upon assessment of the Yolo programme, one of the findings was the distinct omission of children aged between 10 and 14, while reports have shown that some of them were already involved in risky sexual and social behaviour.”

Bogopane-Zulu said added that ChommY sought to build a positive friendship among children between 10 and 14 years and to encourage the young boys and girls to motivate one another to minimise risky behaviour and social ills, including bullying.

“The programme gives children the opportunit­y to develop a personal plan for their lives. It forms part of a basket of social behavioura­l change programmes offered by the Department of Social Developmen­t. Children from hostels in Ekurhuleni will form part of the launch to participat­e in indigenous games, share their social experience­s and solutions, and interact with the programme’s mascot, Bokamoso,” said Bogopane-Zulu.

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