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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

DANCE4LIFE (article first published : 2007-09-8)

Dance4Life is an expanding national and international movement that aims to actively involve young people in the battle against HIV and AIDS, in a way that is appealing and meaningful to them. The Dance4Life South Africa (D4L SA) Life Skills Project is aimed at learners in grades 8, 9 and 10, and was implemented at 20 schools in KwaZulu-Natal and 10 schools in the Western Cape during the first half of this year.

According to Marlijn van Berne, D4L SA Communications and Research Manager, “The Dance4Life SA Life Skills Project hopes to boost the power and energy of young people to bring about a greater and more realistic awareness around sexually reproductive health issues, such as HIV and AIDS that could positively influence their lives and futures. By presenting the youth with a comprehensive set of life skills workshops, the D4L SA Life Skills Project works on the principle of harnessing and boosting core life skills that are essential to achieving better sexual reproductive health. It also aims to positively impact on stigma and discrimination towards people infected and affected by HIV and AIDS. This is achieved through a highly interactive edutainment programme with a dynamic dance and music component.”

The Life Skills Training runs for a period of 13 weeks and includes workshops on Human Rights, Values, Assertiveness, Self Awareness, Communication, Negotiation, Goal Setting, Problem Solving, Performance Skills and Planning.

“The Dance4Life initiative aims to address the needs of those young people who form the group that is highest at risk of contracting HIV. The most ideal venue to target these young people are in their schools, during school. The Dance4Life Life Skills Project and Sexual Reproductive Health Advocacy Project, once fully developed, will include youth in schools who are at higher risk of contracting HIV, as well as other STIs. These life skills aim to empower youth to make the best and most realistic sexual reproductive health choices for their lives and their futures,” adds van Berne.

At the culmination of the Life Skills Training, the participants present to their school peers and teachers, as a means of showcasing the skills they have learnt, through drama, dance and/or musical group performances, which draw from a sexual reproductive health issue pertinent to them and their community. The best performances will then be invited to present at the D4L SA thematic event/concert in Durban in 2008.

Dance4Life’s aim is clear; to reach out and mobilize society through the youth by enhancing life skills tools and facilitating their active participation in the struggle against HIV and AIDS. By World AIDS Day on December, 1st, 2014, Dance4Life International, the recognised youth component of the World AIDS Campaign, aims to be represented in 25 countries and 50 cities worldwide. That boils down to a total of one million young people as ‘agents of change’ all over the world.

For more information on the Dance4Life South Africa programme visit www.dance4lifesa.org.za




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