Island News

Youths gain life skills

Written By : Mela Tuilevuka. Trying to change the attitude and life style of young people for the better is a huge task. But this is a challenge 25 youth
23 Aug 2008 12:00

Written By : Mela Tuilevuka. Trying to change the attitude and life style of young people for the better is a huge task. But this is a challenge 25 youth participants from all over the country are ready to take on after their two-week Life Skills Training Workshop.
The workshop which started on Monday, would enable the participants to gain skills that would help them intergrate better with youths.
Workshop facilitator George Tavola of the South Pacific Commission said the workshop highlights the importance of life skills and explains what young people have to do to become more resilient and therefore are working with the Ministry of Youth.
Mr Tavola who is the Programme Development Officer for Training and Education at SPC said participants learn the key concepts of risk and protective factors as they apply in a Pacific context.
“It explains how life skills can reduce the impact of risk factors while building on existing protective factors,” Mr Tavola said.
“In the end, young people will become empowered to actively participate in their communities and will be able to face challenges in their daily lives with increased confidence,” he added.
Mr Tavola said the participants would be touching on different modules with the objectives for participants to be able to:
l Explain the meaning of Life Skills and give examples.
l Define the term ‘health’ and explain its importance in developing life skills.
l Explain how risk and protective factors can impact health and well being.
l Describe how resilience can be built up and encouraged.
l Define the term ‘harm minimisation’ and the role it plays in protecting young people.
One of the focus of the workshop is how participants would be able to work with other youths affected with HIV, AIDS and STI’s and how to apply these life skills to tackle the problem.
In comparison to the worst affected parts of the world, the prevalence of HIV in the majority of Pacific Island Countries (PIC’s) remains low.
However, numbers infected and affected are growing and the rate of increase in some countries is alarming.
Although current reported HIV prevalence is relatively low in most countries in the region, significant risk factors for HIV transmission exist.
The very high prevalence of other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s) and high rates of teenage pregnancies indicates high risk-taking behaviours and low use of condoms.
Cultural taboos often prevents open discussion of sexual matters which only makes the situation worse.
Furthermore, religious beliefs that are interpreted in a way that discourage the use of condoms may contribute to unsafe sex and unwanted pregnancies, including misunderstandings that marriage protects individuals from HIV and AIDS. The most at risk population groups in the Pacific are young people.
Given the youthful population structure of most Pacific Island countries, young people need have access to accurate information, skills training and friendly health services.
Young people exploring risky, unsafe sexual behaviour may have heard about STI’s, HIV and AIDS, but this does not necessarily mean they will change their risky behavior into much safer behaviour.
Young people are more likely to change their behaviour when they have been exposed to accurate information about HIV and AIDS in the process of developing their life skills.
Other issues on the agenda during the workshop apart from HIV and AIDS include moral values, gender, and teenage pregnancies.
Mr Tavola said the life skills training that participants would gain from the two-week workshop, will be useful when they go out and utilize them out in the society.
“One of the most important skills they have to have is good communication,” Mr Tavola said.
“Along with good communication comes being a good listener,” he added. Mr Tavola said these participants would learn a variety of skills that would enable troubled youths in the community to convey their problems, strengths and weaknesses.
Meanwhile recent criticism that the youths of Fiji should not host the Pacific Youth Festival next year, has died down.
National Youth Advisory Board president Elizabeth Bucknell said their counterparts from neighbouring Pacific Island countries have accepted the fact that Cabinet had recently approved to host the festival.
“We are now waiting for further word from Government on what steps to take and for them to release the funding,” Ms Bucknell said.
“Hosting the festival will be good for youths in Fiji as they would get a chance to express themselves and have their voices heard,” she added.

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