Those of you that may have come to join us as teens, volunteers or staff throughout May will know what a fantastic time we have had at Teen Club, as we have been learning about Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) and responsibility. The amazing uncles and aunties from Family Life Association of Swaziland (FLAS) had a very innovative and relevant approach to SRH for us.
Where do babies come from..?
The FLAS team divided the teens into 3 age groups (10-11yrs, 12-14 & 15-19yrs), in order to be able to teach and discuss suitable topics.
At Hlathikhulu Teen Club, I sat-in with the 10-11s, whom were presented with a short and simple lesson about abstinence and the fertilization process. I think it is fair to conclude that; once we got past the giggles, everyone understood that babies do not come from shops, or storks and that mothers do not buy them in hospitals either! They also learned that it is important to wait until you are old enough to know how to handle the responsibilities that come with sexual relationships before engaging in one.
I also had the privilege of sitting in the 15-19yrs age group at the Manzini Teen Club and can say that everyone learnt something important in this lesson.
Some of the activities…
The adolescents were divided into 2 groups of boys and girls. Each group was asked to write down as many things as they could think of, that they believe or have observed the opposite sex go through between the ages 15 to 19. The girls had to write about the boys and vice versa. There were some very intelligent responses from both teams – and some funny (but true) ones too! The boys wrote that girls’ hips and breasts becoming bigger, that they love to wear make up; never leave the mirror alone and give boys a ‘stubborn attitude’ – I couldn’t help giggling on that last one…
The ladies then talked about how teenage boys get deeper voices, pubic hair and wet dreams. It was also said that they like to dress more fashionably, and some even start drinking and smoking to look cool. Really good – and in many cases true – points!
Aunty Rach and the girls (sunshine group) jotting down ther ideas
Uncle Vika then asked both teams to comment, confirm, add and/or disagree with the points given. Both teams, I would say, seemed satisfied with the points they had each come up with and some even took the time to explain to everyone exactly what menstruation and wet dreams are – Yay for our educated teens!
This was a very useful activity in that, not only did this give the teens a chance to tell FLAS what they know, but it also created an open platform that gave a detailed understanding of the changes that adolescents go through and to teach that they are normal (e.g. pimples/spots and deeper voices).
One of the boys (15-19s) presenting their discussion
Going through changes? That’s okay…
After this activity, Uncle Vika and the 15-19s had a discussion about growing up and experiencing physical, emotional and social changes… For the physical aspect, references were made to some of things mentioned in the group presentations above. One of the main points emphasized was that physical change is a necessary part of growing up and is nothing to be ashamed or afraid of. When talking about emotional and social changes, it was concluded that it is more important to understand change so that we can learn how to manage and control ourselves, especially when faced with peer pressure. This was said to include being pressured into experimenting sexually or socially (e.g. drinking, smoking etc.).
Aunty Sunshine also addressed hormonal changes. One of the important things that she emphasized was that, they are not a license to lose self control, but that they are a sign of growing up. It is therefore important, to make responsible decisions and avoid unwanted consequences.
Choices and consequences…
Before the end of our session with our guests from FLAS, they had an open talk with our 15-19yr olds about the consequences of teenage and/or unplanned pregnancy. This discussion began with asking the teens what they know about this issue. There were good responses given, such as insufficient financial support, family conflicts, and having to drop out of school.
Our teachers added to this list by talking about the undue responsibilities that come with unplanned pregnancy, such as the parenting responsibility that a young person might not be prepared for. Other serious issues, that Aunty Sunshine spoke to us about included; unsafe abortions – that some young people turn due to fear of family reactions and Caesarian section deliveries – that may be deemed necessary procedures for those girls whose bodies may not be ready to give birth in the natural way. She also addressed that some young ladies even become suicidal from the stress of maternity and a lack of support.
Aunty sunshine and Uncle Vika leading a discussion on the consequences of teenage pregnancy
Throughout the lessons, everyone listened very attentively and felt at ease about asking questions whenever they were unsure about something, or wanted to know more.
I think I speak for everyone when I say one blog is really not enough to talk about the amazing FLAS team and their well delivered programme! Teen Club is forever grateful…
One of the FLAS sessions with our attentive teens.
- I am a STAR, What about you…?
By the way, at the end of the FLAS session, Uncle Vika invited everyone to engage in a really cool confidence-building exercise. But that’s another blog, so watch this space for more!
 Abstinence – voluntary forbearance especially from sexual intercourse