To design, implement and evaluate a community based intervention program for promoting health and well-being of young people aged 16 – 24 years in four communities in Goa.
Having worked in the area of youth health for several years, conducting research as well as providing services, Sangath developed the Yuva Mitr project with the mission of developing a community based intervention for promoting the health and well-being of young people by integrating various concerns affecting them and maximizing the impact of community resources.
The project is based in four communities in south Goa, two urban communities in the city of Margao, the commercial hub of Goa, and two rural communities that fall under the catchment area of Balli PHC.
Before delivering the intervention, a number of activities were carried out to fine tune the methodology, including consultative meetings at national and state levels, studying other successful programs for youth health in other parts of the country, conducting formative research to explore how the intervention should be delivered, piloting a small component of the intervention and developing the required resource materials.
Based on these activities, we chose to use five intervention strategies which are described below. First, we carried out a Peer Education Program. Peer leaders were chosen both from within educational institutions and in the community. Peers were trained on study skills, career guidance, mental health, reproductive and sexual health, relationships and life skills,and on how to use interactive and participatory teaching methods.
In the rural community, the peers staged street plays on stress, suicide, substance abuse and HIV/AIDS and conducted group sessions for other young people on life skills. In the institutions, the trained peer leaders conducted group sessions on study skills for other youth. In the first year, 103 peer leaders were trained, 256 youth participated in the group sessions and 577 youth witnessed street plays conducted by the trained peer leaders in the rural areas.
In the second year, nearly 500 youth were trained. Our second strategy was to train teachers to support the peer leaders in conducting programs for other students, to address difficulties faced by students in the classrooms and to refer any student needing professional help to specialist services, including those provided by Sangath at our clinical centre in Raia. A resource guide was prepared for the teachers called Teachers Tool Kit.
Third, we prepared an attractive booklet consisting of handouts and distributed these among all the young people in the communities. The booklet contained information on sexual health, mental health, education and careers and life skills. The peers were also given a “Resource Guide for Peer Leaders“. Fourth, we raised awareness about youth health problems amongst the local medical fraternity through workshops and individual visits to doctors who were unable to attend.
Finally, we raised awareness about youth health in the larger community by displaying over 100 health promotion posters in various prominent locations in the communities. Another significant feature of the project was the formation of a community advisory board (CAB) in the rural community to help the project team in implementing the interventions. All the members of the board were very active in giving inputs to make the interventions best suited to the local community.
Our efforts to establish a CAB in the urban community, unfortunately, were not successful.
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