02 Jul Stay Alive Program Filling Families with Light
Stay Alive Program Filling Families with Light
Posted by Carol Soelberg | July 18, 2007
Dear Friend of the Family,
United Families International’s highly successful Stay Alive program is growing by leaps and bounds and making tremendous impact in the lives of families in Africa. Wendy W. Sheffield, LCSW and the author of “Stay Alive: I Will Live a Long, Loving Life,” had previously written two curriculum modules for Stay Alive. These modules have been in place in nine African nations for a few years. Recently, Wendy completed three more curriculum modules and these will soon be pilot tested. The new modules mark a major step of growth for the program.
Wendy said, “I can’t put into words how excited I am to have the Stay Alive Program — in its fullness — introduced to the children and families of Africa. I know that the principles and skills in Modules I through V are what need to be taught. When combined together, the Stay Alive modules will truly empower children and youth, along with their parents and guardians, with the knowledge, skills and abilities they need to move forward in a physically, emotionally and socially healthy manner.”
While developing the Stay Alive program, Wendy came to realize that the benefits of Stay Alive go far beyond HIV/AIDS prevention and anything else she initially imagined. A head master in one of the schools teaching Stay Alive to pre-adolescents explained the difference the Stay Alive Program was making in the lives of the children:
“Now the children are filled with light. The teachers have more light. The parents have more light. The families have more light. Stay Alive has brought light into our lives.”
Wendy said, “In Africa, a part of the world where sadness, darkness and despair abound, light is truly a priceless blessing.”
The five modules of the Stay Alive program run throughout the year and build upon one another. A review of the modules shows how each is used to influence youth in making good life decisions, with the aim of curtailing the AIDS pandemic roaring through Africa:
Module I (ages 9-10 years): These lessons teach consequential thinking skills and the power that personal choice can have in HIV/AIDS prevention. Children learn that happiness can be found in loving, healthy families.
Module II (ages 10-11 years): These lessons build on the theme of, “As a person of great worth, I deserve to live.” Lessons further focus upon the value of each child, the contributions he or she can make to others and the importance of preserving each individual life.
Module III (ages 11-12 years): The lessons teach responsible decision-making skills and the acceptance of personal responsibility. Children and youth learn what it means to be responsible and a process for making responsible decisions. The theme, “I can make responsible decisions and accept responsibility for what I do” is related to HIV/AIDS prevention.
Module IV (ages 12-13 years): Lessons discuss living with integrity. Youth discuss the theme, “As a person of integrity, I make responsible decisions and choose what I know is right, despite the negative influences around me.” A process for resisting negative influences is taught and integrated within the lives of the students. In this module, youth explore the role integrity plays in their lives and how living with integrity helps them remain HIV/AIDS disease-free.
Module V (ages 13-14 years): The lessons explore emotionally healthy relationships and what it means to genuinely care for and love others. The relationship principles of unselfishness, patience, gratitude, communication, abstinence and fidelity and recognizing that all people are of equal worth are discussed within the context of HIV/AIDS prevention. Students learn a step-by-step approach to integrating these principles within their interpersonal relationships. By applying the skills and concepts taught within the Stay Alive program, youth are empowered to “live long, loving lives.”
Program Growth in Uganda
Uganda has been praised in recent years for reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS. But infections are on the rise again, especially among girls. For every one boy infected with HIV/AIDS, nine girls are infected. “The epidemic is getting on top of us,” said Dr. Apuuli Kihumuro, director of the Uganda AIDS Commission.
It is upon this that the Hope Clinic Lukuli in Kampala is partnering with Reach the Children to administer the Stay Alive program. Clinic leaders realize that they must involve the family unit–whether a natural family, or an adopted family–in regaining the upper hand against AIDS. Translators converted existing Stay Alive materials into Luganda, a language that reaches most of the target group. Teacher training sessions ensued. Children agreed to form Stay Alive clubs in each school, meeting weekly to discuss issues of importance. The Stay Alive Music and Picture Gala marked the climax of the Hope Clinic project.
Leaders of the Hope Clinic implementation project said they believe that children, individuals and whole communities have the inherent capacity to change attitudes and behaviors. This power must now be recognized, called forth and supported from both within and without. “Ours is a long sustainable community solution that gives skills that not only change families, but reach out to their communities. We want to walk away and let our solutions continue to work.” Their sole Stay Alive theme is:
“I am a person of great worth
And I deserve to live!
I will keep my body free from HIV/AIDS,
i) Making choices that bring happiness
ii) Making responsible decisions
iii) Accepting responsibility for my decisions and actions
iv) Living with integrity
v) Building healthy relationships
I WILL LIVE A LONG, LOVING LIFE.”
Stay Alive Poetry
In closing, I would like to share with you a wonderful poem we received from a student participating in a Stay Alive poetry contest held by the Hope Clinic.
Oh, Stay Alive! Stay Alive!
By Nalandi Zaiha
Stay Alive! Stay Alive! Stay Alive!
What an educative programme Stay Alive is!
It has helped us stay free from sexual diseases
It has helped us to know advice about life.
Stay Alive! Stay Alive! Stay Alive!
What a disciplinary programme Stay Alive is!
Stay Alive has helped us to change our behaviours
It has led us to friendship with our enemies
It has led us to good advice about our daily life
Stay Alive! Stay Alive! Stay Alive!
What a beneficial programme Stay Alive is!
It has helped us to know the benefit of not hurting people we love
It has led us to stay a happy life in our families
Stay Alive led to long living life.
Join Stay Alive and you stay in happy life.
This poem conveys the enthusiasm that students are showing for our Stay Alive program. This program is making a tremendous impact in African nations being torn asunder by HIV/AIDS. Stay Alive changes lives very inexpensively. In fact, the cost of administering the program is just 75 cents per child. Will you please consider donating to the program today? Thank you for your kind consideration.
Carol Soelberg, President
United Families International