As an update on the result of our AIDS/HIV discussion (see prior blog post, “Day 2: Afternoon Session: Health and Heroes”) we are jumping ahead to share some of the comments the girls made about it on the last day of camp, Friday, July 30th. Hope Shines CSC Camp 2010 AIDS/HIV Discussion had a goal to educate the children and young adults on the importance of protecting their bodies and staying healthy. Whether that is through abstinence, precautionary measures, monogamy, faithfulness or even taking all the medication necessary to keep them as healthy as they can be if they are HIV Positive. We strive to offer as much information possible for the reality in which they live.
During the conversation we had with the girls, we learned that some of the teens are already dealing with advances from older men when they are walking to and from home, school or the centre. They asked us what they should do in these situations and we answered with an emphatic, “Just say NO!” We described how a female is allowed to say no to a male because it is her body and her right. We then discussed the tools which we are giving them to allow for that “NO!”
We spoke to them about loving their bodies and protecting their future successes. We asked them to think about the times during camp when they felt great about themselves and to carry that forward. We asked them to think about the positive qualities they identified in their role models and to act as such. We cited specific activities we have done since 2008 (thankfully, all of these older girls have been with us since ’08 so we are able to truly build on past lessons) which were designed to increase self-esteem and they told us those activities made them feel good. We explained what having self-confidence means and how, if one has it, it can enable you to make positive decisions in the face of pressure.
We were happy the discussion had become so robust – not only covering the factual but also the emotional. But we were beside ourselves when we heard what lessons they would carry with them from camp this year.
See, on the last day we broke up into our small groups and played “The String Game” where the girls had to each voice something they will take with them from camp this week. A ball of yarn was tossed around the circle and in the end it creates a beautiful “star-like” design in the center – thus connecting everyone in the circle. A number of the older girls stated they were going to take with them the ability to say “NO” in the event they had sexual advances and requests from men. A couple said they didn’t know this was even an option before our talk!
They are now starting to understand that its ok to stand up for themselves and be strong women, protecting their bodies and their futures so that they may continue to strive for their goals and dreams. Such a great revelation!
Dr. Stephanie Chu and April Riegler
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