"Window of Hope" in-school HIV/AIDS clubs
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Christian Council of Ghana
Since the first case of HIV/AIDS was recorded in Ghana in the mid 1980's the rate of HIV/AIDS transmission continues to devastate Ghanian communities. Currently approximately 25 percent of the population is infected, with the highest rates among the 15-49 age group and among women. Rates are highest in urban areas, but infection is rapidly spreading to rural areas. Discussion of HIV/AIDS is marked by misinformation and misconception. While most Ghanians have heard of HIV/AIDS, their knowledge and understanding of its causes, characteristics, and modes of transfer is lacking.
Youth and school children are particularly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS infection. They need accurate, timely, appropriate HIV/AIDS education. In response, the Christian Council of Ghana has launched the Window of Hope initiative. Youth and children in targeted schools and communities are provided HIV/AIDS education through community-based workshops. The workshop includes basic facts, modes of transmission, prevention, statistics, and projections of HIV/AIDS cases, and how to care for people living with HIV/AIDS. The information provided enables youth and school-age children to make informed choices concerning reproductive health and responsible sexual behavior.
The initial workshop is followed up with the creation of in-school clubs. The club serves as a social gathering for children and youth and as a forum for learning and educating themselves and their peers about HIV/AIDS . The club members organize service and outreach programs addressing HIV/AIDS concerns. The club"s programs help its members develop a sense of compassion, fairness, and reduced stigmatization towards persons living with AIDS. Club members elect their own officers and plan their own meetings and projects but continue to draw on resource persons from outside the group.
This program has been piloted in three schools. A participant in the inauguration of the Window of Hope program shared this description:
Today we were at Tesano with more than 1000 school children from the cluster schools and surrounding areas, parents, friends, and the media in attendance. The program was wonderful and a rousing success. The student participants were unbelievably passionate, articulate, creative and overflowing with talent as they communicated the message to abstain from pre-marital sex with skits, music, dance, and poetry presentations. Everyone left the program inspired and encouraged...
The cost to develop, introduce, and support the Window of Hope workshop and club in a school is $2,333.00. This includes program materials and publicity.
The program was modeled on the “Journey of Hope” which is a behavior change communications program with skits, role plays, drama, and community conversations. The program evaluation shows great success. Ongoing implementation of the program is left to the schools as it was made a part of the extra-curricular activities. Technical support was provided by the Christian Council of Ghana.