Soul Buddyz After-School Program Inspires Children to Live Healthier Lives
All children have the right to safe activities after school, especially when they offer support for some of life’s hardest issues, including HIV/AIDS prevention and gender-based violence. Soul Buddyz, an innovative non-government organization in South Africa, is working with schools, teachers, and children to provide a rich after-school program.
Through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), CDC-South Africa partners with the Soul City Institute for Health and Development Communication to bring the vibrant after-school program to schools across South Africa. Soul Buddyz is a “club” that provides children with an outlet where they can talk about difficult issues and learn positive life skills, while also working on community service projects like serving the elderly and families in need.
Power of Partnerships
CDC-South Africa and PEPFAR support Soul Buddyz and their HIV prevention curriculum. The partnership enables the program to be inclusive of issues children face in addition to HIV. Soul Buddyz gives the children who join their local club the opportunity to face and discuss challenging issues while also embracing the role of teachers and community leaders to help keep them safe and healthy.
With support from partners like CDC, Soul City is able to continuously develop unit guides that drive club discussions and activities. According to Lovemore Manjora, the Soul City Children Projects Coordinator, “Soul City develops unit guides based on issues that are affecting the buddies themselves. We read correspondence and reports from the clubs that tell us what is going on their lives. Soul City then picks out the issues that are coming out the most and develops programming addressing those topics. The guide includes lessons for the facilitators and projects for the children to complete.”
Giving the Children an Outlet
Ivory Park Primary School, outside of Johannesburg, is one of 8,000 schools in South Africa that has embraced the innovative after-school program Soul Buddyz. The children at Ivory Park appreciate that their Soul Buddyz Club has given them the opportunity to have a safe place to talk about health issues, and in turn, give back to their community. There are three individual clubs – Youngsters, Little Friends, and Super Stars. Each is led by a teacher at the school who volunteers their time.
Soul City has training for facilitators at the district, provincial, and national level, but every school can tailor programming to best suit their community. “Club members are encouraged to be as creative as possible, depending on the message they want to get across. They are appreciative of the impact the club is bringing to their lives, so their songs and poems reflect what they are learning,” said Manjora.
The Soul Buddyz Club program is based on the popular children’s TV drama, Soul Buddyz. On the show, the Buddyz are friends who spend time together after school. Children from around the country wrote to Soul City asking how they can start a program at their school just like the one on TV.
CDC-South Africa’s work with Soul Buddy is led by the country office’s HIV Prevention Branch. Prevention remains one of the highest priorities of PEPFAR. CDC supports a multi-faceted prevention approach that uses epidemiologic evidence to determine the most effective combination of evidence-based interventions. Among these are a mix of behavioral, biomedical, and structural interventions that are integrated into the health system to build synergies between prevention, care, and treatment programs.