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''Agents of change' Takes off in three Diocese
'‘AGENTS OF CHANGE’ TAKES OFF IN THREE DIOCESES.
‘The message you live is more important than the message you give’.
In January 2007 three training camps were held for the Dioceses of False Bay, Saldanha and Cape Town to train peer educators from 25 churches for the ‘agents of change’ programme.
This is a peer educator programme which trains up young people to be the change they want to see in their communities. The programme was set up in response to research conducted in the Diocese of Cape Town which revealed disturbingly high levels of sexual activity amongst Anglican Youth . Fikelela AIDS project together with the Youth Departments of the three Dioceses identified two strategies in response: peer education and parenting workshops. Peer pressure is one of the strongest factors influencing whether young people become sexually active, and parental values are one of the strongest factors that enable young people to abstain from sex.
For the peer education programme, a partnership was formed with GOLD peer education (who recently received the first prize for the Commonwealth Education Good Practice awards). For the parenting workshops, guidance was obtained from the Parent Centre in Cape Town.
The programme was piloted in eleven churches in 2006. The peer educators were elected by members of their youth group and attended a training camp for three days. The existing youth leaders were trained as facilitators. Over the course of the year, the peer educators, known as ‘agents of change’ presented twenty sessions , starting with values, goals and boundary setting , and proceeding to teenage pregnancies, drugs and alcohol, sexually transmitted diseases, rape and HIV/AIDS. At the same time, three sessions were run with parents, to look at how to communicate with your teenager. Here are some of the comments from youth:
• I have had to stop and reflect on my own behaviour and discipline, because suddenly all these young people are looking to me for guidance and as an example. I have had to ask myself what type of role model I am, and I have had to make quite a few adjustments to my lifestyle.
• Youth has changed a lot and more people is attending to find out what is going on and what the agents will do for them...
• The young people have changed for better and also try to change their friend’s life. Some also give life to God. That may put God first in their life.
• In our Youth, more and more youth are attending and some are committed to what we are doing and feel free to come and talk to us about their problems. My dream is to see our youth making a change and realizing that there’s nothing for you when you out there doing things and hurting people
• My life was in a mess I was doing the wrong things like suicide and drugs and not basically believing in myself and my faith in God was not then at that specific time and moment of need. Wrong friends and family problems. I started going to church, going to Youth. I found people that care for me. People that helping me and guiding me to the right path in life.
• Me, as an agent of change, have been trying to help others in our church with their problems , even with a friend I have had for 10 years came to me and told me that her boyfriend is pressuring her into having sex and I told her that she should join me in a few sessions to see if it would change her way of seeing the situation. Everything is going well, coz I convinced her to see the situation in a different angle and after session 3 she told me that she is not ready for this commitment in her life, coz it has consequence to face.
• I have left my dirty habits so that I can set a good example to my peers’. My friends feel comfortable speaking to me. I have grown closer to my sister and parents cause I feel I can speak to them about anything and they would listen and I feel that this is the example I want to be.
• The agent camp did help me from doing drugs.
• I have learn and done more things I listening and playing right and learn more thing like changing my life from drink and more things that I have been doing wrong.. I like the agent of change because it has helped me to change and everything is going well.
• For me, I swearing a lot in school but for my life now I know I will stop swearing.
• How I have changed is that I was never so much in the church. I used to drink a lot of wine and I am not drinking anymore. I was always fighting with my parents, but I have realized they are my parents. I used to have lots of girl friends and now I only have one. I am speaking a lot with my friends about tik, they do it . Now it is not going so well for them. I wish that my friends will stop smoking dagga they must stop because they can see that I have changed and they also can change.
• I can see that my friends want to change and need help, they want to change. My family are very close to me at the moment, supporting me every step of the way. Firstly, I would like to see myself as a totally different person; I would like to have a closer relationship with God. I would also like to see my community being a safer place to walk.
• I was changed by the camp we had last time and have stopped smoking and drinking and like changed others lives like my friends lives and I also changed my family feelings about my mother loves me even more for I’ve stopped even standing in the street Friday nights asking for R1, R2 and so it goes on just for cigarettes
And some comments from facilitators:
• We can proudly state that for the first time, none of our teenagers fell pregnant last year.
• We are proud to say that we have a church where the young people who were doing drugs are off them.
Behaviour change does not come through information and education; it comes about through affirmation and inspiration.