11 June 2021, eMadlangeni - KwaZulu-Natal: The Deputy Minister of Social Development, Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, in partnership USAID’s Pepfar-funded Government Capacity Building and Support (GCBS) initiative, will on 12 June, launch ChommY - a social and behavioural change programme for children aged between 10 and 14.
Initially launched in Gauteng in March 2020 under the slogan: “Invest in my Future…Protect me Today”, ChommY aims to generate knowledge, develop skills and empower young people to make more informed choices to reduce HIV infections, substance abuse, boost self-confidence and to prevent teenage pregnancies.
This particular launch of ChommY in eMadlangeni (Utrecht, KwaZulu-Natal) will specifically be targeted at encouraging disabled children to become the friend they want to see in their communities. ChommY, which is colloquial term for “friend”, aims to build positive friendships among 10 to 14 year olds and to encourage young boys and girls to motivate one another to minimise being involved in risky behaviours or being victims of other social ills including bullying.
ChommY was launched against the backdrop of the Department’s YOLO programme which was launched in 2015 to educate young people between the ages of 15 and 24 about HIV/Aids, substance abuse, teenage pregnancy and being agents of social change.
YOLO was established as part of the Department’s Comprehensive Strategy on HIV and Aids. According to a 2018 HIV Prevalence Report by Statistics South Africa, HIV prevalence among the youth aged 15 – 24 declined over time from 6.7% in 2002 to 5.5% in 2018. Despite this decline, HIV infections amongst the youth remain relatively high to date. This is hugely attributed to the behavioural, social and structural drivers of HIV, which contribute to youth being vulnerable to HIV and AIDS.
Upon assessment of the YOLO programme, one of the findings was the distinct omission of children aged between 10 and 14, while reports showed that some of them were already involved in risky sexual and social behaviour.
Children from eMadlangeni will form part of the launch to participate in indigenous games, share their social experiences and solutions and to interact with the programme’s mascots.
Members of the media are invited to attend and cover the event scheduled as follows:
Date: 12 June 2021
Venue: Bersig LSEN Sports Ground, 11 Van Rooyen Street, Utrecht, KwaZulu-Natal Province
ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT