The Benefits to our Members:
- “I am not alone and I can help other teens living with HIV.”
- “I want to learn life skills and how to improve my health.”
- “I am going to be a leader.”
The Benefits to Swaziland
- Providing a community for adolescents living with HIV.
- Educating adolescents to transition successfully into adulthood.
- Leadership training to lead Swaziland in the battle against HIV.
The Swaziland-Baylor Teen Club’s mission is to empower HIV-positive adolescents in Swaziland to live positively and successfully transition into adulthood. We offer emotional and educational support through structured activities designed to teach life skills, foster relationships, and build confidence. We provide a forum for adolescents to constructively express themselves and discuss issues regarding their condition without the threat of stigma. Teen Club currently reaches over 200 adolescents from all across Swaziland.
Quick facts about Teen Club and HIV in Swaziland
- Teen Club was established in 2006.
- Teen Club is part of the Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Foundation – Swaziland and part of an international network of Baylor College of Medicine supported Teen Clubs.
- Swaziland has the highest rate of HIV in the world at 26% of adults and 42% pregnant women.
- Lifesaving antiretroviral medications to treat HIV and prevent mother to child transmission are provided free of charge by the Government of Swaziland.
- Over 12,300 children ages 10-19 are living with HIV in Swaziland.
- Over 800 children ages 10-19 have participated in at least one Teen Club Support Group.
Overview of Adolescence
Derived from the Latin verb adolescere (to grow into maturity), adolescence is a period of great change. This second decade of life is one of the most complex transitions of human development, its breathtaking pace of growth and change second only to that of infancy. Physically, children experience rapid growth spurts and become sexually mature. They also develop the capacity to reason in more abstract ways, explore the concepts of right and wrong, develop hypotheses and think about the future. Adolescents take on additional responsibilities, experiment with new ways of doing things and push for independence. As they grapple with physical and emotional changes, today’s adolescents must also cope with external forces over which they have little control. Demands of culture, gender, globalization and poverty have pushed millions of adolescents prematurely into adult roles and responsibilities. HIV/AIDS, urbanization and rising unemployment have dramatically undermined the education and development of many more. As traditional social networks unravel, the structure of families is reshaped, and sometimes demolished, and the capacity of family and community support systems shrinks. With their world often lacking safety, consistency and structure, adolescents are left to make difficult choices, largely on their own. These challenges are compounded for adolescents living with HIV.
Teen Club Model
Social science theory prescribes that when adolescents have close, reliable relationships, their self-confidence improves. When they feel connected, they are more likely to benefit from additional protective factors that can help them form coping strategies and develop positive self-esteem. Connectedness is critical in creating a safe and supportive environment where teens feel both autonomous and protected – where they are exposed to positive values; are guided with structure, supervision and rules; are provided with opportunities now and a sense that they will have opportunities in the future; and have the freedom to explore their identity, express their opinions and participate in decisions that affect their lives. To form their identity and grow to be healthy, responsible, productive and ethical adults, adolescents need to be given access to support systems and opportunities to develop close and durable relationships, to feel a sense of worth and to feel valued in the community. When adolescents are supported and encouraged by caring adults, they thrive in unimaginable ways, becoming resourceful and contributing members of families and communities. Bursting with energy, curiosity and spirit that are not easily extinguished, adolescents, including those living with HIV, have the potential to change negative societal patterns of behaviour and break cycles of HIV infection.