Girl Designers

Youth as Knowledge Base

The Development Initiative Supporting Healthy Adolescents (DISHA’s) approach to increasing access to SRHR information and services is heavily driven by youth who provide a knowledge base, identify suitable providers and serve as resources for their peers. While services such as antenatal care can be given only by trained providers with appropriate facilities, a significant number of youth needs, such as access to accurate information, lend themselves easily and most naturally to young people providing the services themselves. For other needs not best met by youth, creative alternatives need to be explored and given time to take hold, such as the private health service providers. Village-based peer ventures also could benefit from stronger linkages with government and/or private sector social marketing projects.52

If the goal of your sport programme is truly to empower adolescent girls, why not let them help in the design of the programme? They are more likely to be engaged when they have participated in the creation of the programme. Give adolescent girls opportunities to shape the activities that will ultimately shape them. The experience can be incredible for building trust and bonds within the group, especially in relation to SRHR.

Invite girls to help:

  • Pick the sport or activity
  • Help in the creation of SRHR sessions
  • Weigh in on practice times, length of practice and frequency of games
  • Decide on team names and colours
  • Design, paint or care for physical space that is being used
  • Create code of conduct, expectations or team rules
  • Choose the captains or leaders

It has been claimed that by using participatory approaches to involve youth in general, programmes can guarantee that: a) planned interventions empower youth to meet their objectives and advocate on their own behalf; and b) programmes designed for youth provide them with knowledge to enrich their own critical thinking and amplify their ability to make decisions that reflect healthy choices and behaviours.51

Adolescent girls are an important resource in defining and meeting their SRHR needs. They need to be recognised as crucial partners in implementing and sustaining SRHR interventions, particularly in settings where other resources are limited. Better understanding of adolescent girls needs and potential, as well as effective linkages with government and private sector providers for select services can provide an innovative, cost-effective and sustainable route to meeting SRHR.

Useful Example – Teaching Opportunities
Moving The Goalposts in Kenya reiterates the effectiveness of this strategy and agrees that it is great to give young people ‘teaching’ opportunities. However they recommend that organisations that adopt this concept must ensure that the facilitator has the knowledge and understands the values of the organisation. All people have their own views on fairness, justice etc. which is informed by their culture and religion.

As a coach, you can point out “teaching” moments during a sport practice, when something happens on the field or during a drill that you can link to a larger life discussion, on fairness, justice, rule breaking, teamwork etc.

Useful Example – Active Learning
Grassroot Soccer uses the power of soccer to educate, inspire, and mobilise communities to stop the spread of HIV. Their ‘Skillz’ curriculum focuses on building basic life skills that help boys and girls adopt healthy behaviours and live risk-free.

At the end of every session, the programme uses an “MZit Move.” Participants are partnered and receive an assignment to do outside of the sport programme related to the topic they just learned about. For example, after a session on HIV, they may be asked to talk with two people they know about HIV and report back on what they learned. This is ‘active learning’ at its best and allows participants to truly apply the information that they learned during the sports session to their everyday lives.