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Character Education

Fighting HIV/AIDS in St. Lucia through Character Building

Choiseul, St. Lucia - More than 80 adolescents gathered during the summer holidays for a five-day workshop in Choiseul, a small town in the south of St .Lucia, July 25-29, 2011. The workshop activities took place at the Centre of Excellence, a former school building now used as a community center.

The Universal Peace Federation, the National Youth Council, and the Choiseul Youth & Sports Council harmoniously cooperated to set up this unique workshop.

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We are deeply grateful to the United Nations Population Fund, which provided the funds for this workshop through the CARICOM Secretariat.

The main cause of the HIV/AIDS epidemic is the result of sexual relations. This workshop tried to approach matters regarding sexual relations in a realistic and holistic manner.

Through presentations and group discussions, this workshop created a safe environment where participants could discuss and express their opinions freely.

On Monday morning, we were pleasantly surprised to have almost an equal number of boys and girls, and the boys stayed until the last day. For us, this was a good indication of success.

On the first day, Monday, five teams were created. There were ice breaker exercises and activities to bring about good cohesion in groups so that everyone could feel free and safe to express themselves in their groups.

They had discussions on joy and happiness, through which they pointed out that there are different kinds of happiness. They realized that lasting happiness was based on trustful and caring relationships. They debated on how to build lasting happiness in oneself, and some teams did skits on this theme.

In the afternoon some teams made greeting cards while others made glass bead necklaces. The boys enjoyed making necklaces as much as the girls; they were very creative and proudly wore their necklaces all throughout the workshop.

On Tuesday, Mr. McArthur Philip, Social Transformation Officer for Choiseul, did a presentation and several activities to let everybody discover their own leadership style.

After the morning break and a PowerPoint presentation by Mr. Remy Taupier, everyone met by teams and held discussions on the theme: “What are the similarities and differences between real love and infatuated love?”, from which several skits were created.

On Wednesday, the entire morning was based on the theme “Reproductive health” through PowerPoint presentations, question-and-answer sessions, songs, and activities with Dr. Mathurin, Nurse Montoute and Naomie Grandison, a local singer doing the “I’m beautiful” campaign.

In the afternoon, teams had discussions on HIV/AIDS after watching the presentation: “HIV is a Killer.” They then prepared skits on HIV/AIDS and songs for the talent show on Friday afternoon.

Each morning there were inspirational readings. On Thursday, Mr. Taupier did a PowerPoint presentation on relationships and love; they then continued the discussions by teams using the “Discovering the Real Me” series, Grade 10, Chapter 12: “Human Sexuality and Integrity.” They also used the CARICOM Life Skills Manual: “Am I taking chances? Am I placing myself in risky situations?”

A delegate of St. John Ambulance then led several activities about first aid and CPR.

The theme for the afternoon was “Service and caring for the community.” One team painted the lunch tables and benches, one team cleaned the flowerbeds and planted hibiscus, and one team painted the stones decorating the flowerbeds; one team went all around picking up the litter and one team renovated some of the murals. All participants testified about how good they felt doing this for their community and for the Centre of Excellence.

On Friday, the teams took the time to discuss “What are the qualities you would like to see in your future spouse?” First, each team member reflected about it individually, and then each member shared their points with their team.  At the plenary session before lunch, each team reported their discussions, and the qualities were written on the blackboard. It helped each one to realize the qualities they would like to see in their boy friend or girl friend.

In the afternoon, the talent show and the closing ceremony took place with the handing out of the certificates of participation. The workshop then ended joyfully with two hours of karaoke.

Here is a slide show of the event:

Participants’ remarks (from the evaluation forms):

- I learned about the viruses that are around and how dangerous they can be so I should protect myself.

- I learned about HIV, love and sex.

- This camp will be one to remember. It was fun and educating, I learned plenty of new things and I will put them into action.

- It enabled me to express myself and develop myself in confidence in the group I was placed in.

- It was a fun yet educating camp which helped us realize a lot of points to have a brighten fulfilling future.

- This camp helped me realize that I can make a change in my life.

- It was great! I had fun and on top of that I was well educated on the topics.

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