By soliciting youth’s feedback on our services, AMS strengthens the quality of our programming and ensures it fits with our patients’ needs. We also empower youth leaders in our youth group, Victor’s Club, to take an active role in managing the group’s activities. In addition, we have differentiated youth care – we split appointment days according to age, and have a specified youth room and adolescent wing within the AMS compound.
AMS launched the Victors Club to establish a platform for peer support to over 1,100 young people who access services at AMS. Members of the Victor’s Club range from 11 to 24 years of age, with the older members advising and counselling the younger ones. The Victor’s Club shows our youth that they are not alone, and that there are others their age who are facing the same HIV-related struggles.
Community Music, Community Health
From 2016 to 2017, AMS and Musicians without Borders trained 30 youth to become Community Music Leaders. Twice a month on Saturday mornings, these music leaders work with other youth patients, teaching them how to drum, sing, write songs, dance and play other instruments. The training program built on AMS’ existing psychosocial support services, using music therapy to build confidence, boost self-esteem, provide a platform for peer interaction, and be used as a tool for psychosocial support.
Peer Support Groups
Within the Victor’s Club, members are divided into small groups based on age. These groups are engaged in education sessions on sexual and reproductive health. By dividing youth by age group (11 to 14, 15 to 18, and 19 to 24), we encourage positive interaction with peers in an age-appropriate environment. Such meetings facilitate discussion around personal matters, support for peers, and advice around a number of different topics. In addition, each group uses social media channels, such as Facebook and WhatsApp, to stay connected digitally.
Youth Leaders and Peer Educators
Through the Victors Club, 20 youth leaders have received training in communications and leadership skills. These leaders connect with HIV positive youth in their neighborhoods, organizing gatherings to introduce peers to each other, and following up on youth who may be struggling with adherence or disclosure. These youth leaders work with our 30 youth peer educators, the latter of whom engaged in a multi-day training to learn to spread health messages throughout their communities, and bring more youth into care at AMS.