|© UNICEF Eastern Caribbean/2007/Dabney|
|Scottish cricketer Fraser Watts reviews a comic book on stopping stigma against people living with HIV and AIDS with St. Kittian students who developed the publication.|
By Robert Dabney and Lisa McClean-Trotman
ST. KITTS, 19 March 2007 – It has often been said that youth hold the solutions to many of the problems that they face.
Continued reports of the growing number of Caribbean young people engaging in risky sexual behaviours – which make them vulnerable to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections – have prompted teens from Washington Archibald High School in St. Kitts to take leadership. They are designing communication materials aimed at reaching their peers with a positive lifestyle.
The students recently had the opportunity to share their work and experiences with members of the Scottish cricket team. Vice Captain Ryan Watson and Fraser Watts, Opening Batsman and spokesman for Scottish Players on HIV, are both in St. Kitts and Nevis playing in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007.
‘Our Voices, Our Future’
The visit from the Scottish cricketers is one of the many outreach programmes organized by UNICEF offices in the Caribbean during ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 as part of the partnership between the ICC, UNICEF, UNAIDS and the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership on HIV/AIDS to support the global campaign, Unite for Children. Unite against AIDS.
The visiting cricketers, who were also accompanied by team manager Euan McIntyre, listened to the high schoolers – members of the Young Leaders group – as they spoke about their work over the past year with the UNICEF co-sponsored PANCAP/CARICOM Youth Ambassador Mini-Grant Programme, ‘Our Voices, Our Future’.
Representatives of the youth group also presented the players and the team manager with copies of a comic book, ‘Lizzie’s Lesson’, which they have developed as a tool to fight stigma and discrimination against people affected by HIV. The book will soon be distributed in schools across St. Kitts and Nevis.
|© UNICEF Eastern Caribbean/2007/Dabney|
|St. Kitts Young Leaders member Jermaine James explains his group’s HIV/AIDS project to UNICEF Child Protection Specialist Heather Stewart and Scotland cricket team members Ryan Watson, Euan McIntyre (team manager) and Fraser Watts.|
A friendly match
Mr. Watson, who was born in Zimbabwe, but grew up in South Africa, has witnessed the impact of HIV on those countries. He was impressed with what the teens here had done.
“Growing up in Africa, I’ve seen what can happen if HIV is not stopped,” he said. “What you have done here is fantastic.”
Mr. Watson and Mr.Watts also took the opportunity to engage in a friendly match with the Young Leaders and passed on a few tips to them.
Going above and beyond
UNICEF Child Protection Specialist and focal point for St. Kitts and Nevis Heather Stewart said she hoped this visit by the cricketers would be the beginning of a lasting partnership with cricket associations – a partnership for positive development among Caribbean teens.
“To have the youth of St. Kitts and Nevis so actively involved in the fight against HIV is what UNICEF strives for,” said Ms. Stewart, who accompanied the Scottish cricketers. She called such visits “a wonderful opportunity for the world to see the extent of the impact of HIV and AIDS in the Caribbean on youth, and their response to the pandemic.”
One of the Washington Archibald students, Jermaine James, was certainly affected by the day’s events. “The visit by the members of the Scottish team has really inspired us to reach above and beyond,” he said. “With the World Cup in St. Kitts, the world is at our doorstep and we have a chance to help stop the spread of HIV among people our age.”
Joining the students were also the two CARICOM Youth Ambassadors from St. Kitts and Nevis, Khalea Robinson and Jolanie Jones, who led the Mini-Grant programme that supported the HIV/AIDS work of the Young Leaders.
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