Reaching the Youth with Dance4Life Agents

Temesgen Belay is a student who is involved in the Dance4Life by TEA. He shared his ideas and experiences in the project “My friends are very amazing. I have never met youth who are so knowledgeable.” Members of dance4life agent Crew make a difference in the lives of their community members, and their participation makes a positive difference in their own lives as well. One dance4life agent Crew member shares his story:

I learned Sexual, Reproductive Health leadership skills in addition to so much information about pregnancy prevention and HIV/ AIDS. Honestly, you would think I had known more since I was already in high school, but it was not until I connected with the dance4life agent Crew that I really learned about sexual reproductive health. Before that time no one had ever sat down and talked to me about what mattered in those areas and how to truly be responsible. Now even though I am no longer in the program, I share that information on my college campus. Some people might think it is weird for a young man to be involved with a youth’s organization, but that never bothered me because it was about teaching every person with the center. I highly recommend the teen council/ dance4life agent to any young man or woman and I am thankful for everything I gained through Tiruzer Ethiopia for Africa (TEA) dance4life project agent.

In end of 2013 Debre Birhan Town invited dance4life agent Crew to participate in Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. As part of this effort, the youth helped to recruit 1545 college students to receive HIV testing. Furthermore, the group helped to recruit homeless community members to participate in an HIV/AIDS awareness event. The Program Manager of World Start with Me at TEA shared that the community members were blown away by the students. One community member said, “They are amazing. I have never met youth who were so knowledgeable.”

In addition to the teen leadership council component, Dance4Life Project includes two days of workshops, 6- to 7 hours follow-up sessions, and a student parent education session. The workshops explore topics such as healthy relationship education, peer pressure, adolescent physical development, and making healthy decisions. The program reaches 1,200 youth per year in four different districts through its workshops and approximately a thousand more with the activities of the teen council.

As an evidence-based intervention, Dance4Life Project has been shown to delay sexual initiation among sexually-inexperienced adolescents and to increase condom use among sexually-active adolescents. Through collaboration with four District Health offices evaluating its program and staff members are hopeful that outcomes will reflect the positive feedback they have received from their community and Dance4Life Agent Crew members alike.

I am aware of the concept of pregnancy prevention and HIV/ AIDS, family planning & sexual reproductive health and in a position to teach the community and properly lead my life in the future. Thanks to TEA implementing this project and involving me in the project.