Membership Spotlight: SCTG Youth Partners

A Spotlight on Our Youth Partners

For our July spotlight, the Self-Care Trailblazer Group is highlighting two of our youth partners, Grassroot Soccer, an adolescent health organization that helps young people overcome their greatest health challenges through the power of soccer, and HCDExchange, a community of practice dedicated to advancing learning and evidence on human-centered design and adolescent sexual health programming. Patience Tembo, a Youth Reproductive Health Assistant at GRS and Liz McNeil, Community of Practice Manager, share why they believe in the power of self-care for adolescents below.

Interested in learning more about what young people need to achieve their self-care goals? Join Patience and Liz on August 11th and hear directly from young people as they define what self-care actually means to them. Register here.

Tell us a bit about your organization!

Liz McNeil: The HCDExchange is a Community of Practice dedicated to advancing learning and generating evidence on the impact that human-centered design (HCD) can have on adolescent sexual health programming (ASRH). We seek to explore, test, document and evaluate the benefits and challenges of integrating HCD in ASRH. Our work aims to generate learning and an evidence base that stakeholders across the field can use to inform, validate and scale design-led ASRH interventions. In our work, we focus on low resource settings in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, and are committed to meaningful youth participation in all our activities.

Patience Tembo: Grassroot Soccer (GRS) is a global adolescent health organization that utilizes the power of soccer to help young people overcome their greatest health challenges, live healthier, more productive lives, and become agents of change in their communities.

For nearly 20 years, we have helped millions of young people across the globe develop life-saving skills around HIV, sexual and reproductive health, gender based violence, mental health, COVID, and more.

Why do you believe self-care is a vital part of health systems?

Liz McNeil: Self-care, coupled with complete and unbiased information, can increase accessibility to health services for young people that may otherwise get left due to resource-based challenges. Self-care provides a tool for active participation of individuals in their own well-being, which can enhance demand for, and trust in, the health systems.

Patience Tembo: Self-care touches on so many components of the health system. Within African culture, it can first be viewed as selfish and self-centered. We are taught from a young age to put the interests of others first. But self-care allows you to establish a sense of autonomy and authority over your own body and sexuality.

As a Youth Reproductive Health Assistant (YRHA), I work with clients to determine which contraceptive method is suitable for them while equipping them with the relevant information they need to make informed decisions. I believe that women should be very much aware of self-care practices and not let anyone take away from what is individually right for her.

How does your organization believe that self-care can uniquely support adolescents and young people?

Liz McNeil: We think that self-care is a critical method for adolescents to exercise agency over their own well-being, especially around issues of sexual and reproductive health, that are often taboo and otherwise stigmatised. We want to promote ASRH programming that recognises adolescents and young people not as beneficiaries but as active agents of change. Self care can be a tool in shaping that discourse. We also believe that self-care and knowledge of their rights can help to empower youth and adolescents to advocate for their own health and wellness needs when interacting with the health system, and inspire a consent-based approach to receiving healthcare services.

Patience Tembo: Putting self-care front and center for adolescents and young people can be life changing. Through Grassroot Soccer’s YRHA program and SKILLZ interventions, we work to create an environment where crucial health-centered discussions and decisions can be made in a safe environment. From HIV testing services, to family planning and contraceptive methods, to sexual and gender based violence education, we are able to empower young people with the knowledge and power they need to make informed decisions for their happier and brighter futures.

CLICK HERE to see Patience Tembo, Senior Coach for GRS in Zimbabwe, explore how self-care can challenge traditional gender roles and dynamics through a 2021 International Women’s Day series on self-care with Population Services International (PSI).

Anything else you’d like to share?

Liz McNeil: We believe that human-centered design (HCD) can enhance ASRH programming through empathy and collaboration. More and more young people are recognising HCD as a tool for advancing their engagement in programs that impact their lives and are keen on learning HCD tools to better contribute to ASRH programs. We are hosting an event series throughout August that will train young ASRH advocates, implementers, evaluators on HCD. More information can be found here! If you have thoughts on how HCD can advance self-care, we would love to hear from you on our shared community learning forum, which is a platform for implementers, designers, evaluators, funders, and youth to discuss ideas at the intersection of HCD+ASRH. You can become a community member by clicking on this link!