AIDS Foundation has “Real Talk” with Sundial students

POSTED: 11/30/14 10:49 PM

St. Maarten – “Real Talk and Girl Power bring and formalize important life lessons. We hope to ultimately influence the youngsters to take better care of themselves and pave the way for productive and fulfilling lives,”’ said Real Talk Head Coordinator for the St. Maarten AIDS Foundation Rajesh Chintaman, who, along with his colleagues, brought the foundation’s Real Talk program for teenage boys to the Sundial School earlier this month. Some 47 second form boys participated in the 3 half-day sessions. Real Talk, which is a comprehensive sexuality education program, seeks to motivate young men to think about their life goals, foster respect for one ’s self and for others, manage peer pressure, practice communication skills, and learn useful knowledge on sexually transmitted infections, with the end goal of reaching adulthood in a healthy manner.

The AIDS Foundation started implementing the program last year to accompany its long-running Girl Power program, so that both boys and girls can share common knowledge and steer peer norms toward mutual respect, empowered decision making and delayed sexual debut. Surveys taken before and after the workshops found that the participating Sundial boys’ knowledge on topics such as sexually transmitted infections/ HIV, effectiveness of condoms, and pregnancy notably improved. For example, the percentage of boys who recognize that oral sex can transmit a sexually transmitted infection went up from 56% to 77%, and the percentage of boys knowing that anyone can get HIV if not protected went up from 49% to 87%.

Volunteer facilitators for the Sundial sessions were Rick Martina, Alan Schet, Heather Caputo, Rajesh Chintaman and Rae Merlet. They were also helped by 4 volunteers from the Spouses Organization of the American University of the Caribbean (AUC), Katie Gallo, Kate Stennet, Stephani Klumpp and Megan Kuertz. The AIDS Foundation is seeking new volunteer facilitators to be trained for Girl Power and Real Talk. Those interested are asked to contact info@sxmaidsfoundation.org.

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