First Lady, UNICEF laud school health club programme
─ National programme launched under theme “start your path to better health”
DPI, Guyana, Monday, July 15, 2019
Her Excellency Sandra Granger, First Lady of Guyana, has commended the Ministry of Public Health’s Secondary School Health Club initiative noting that it can serve as a method of informing teens about their sexual and reproductive health.
The School Health Club is an initiative designed with adolescents in mind, especially those in school. It executes a series of activities aimed at improving their health and wellness and the environment.
The National Programme was launched on Wednesday, July 10, at Camp Wesleyan on the Linden-Soesdyke Highway and focused on capacity building for teachers and students who will implement activities in the various secondary school health clubs. It was highlighted that training for teachers in Regions 3, 4 and 10 who will be involved in similar initiatives commenced earlier in the year.
The First Lady observed that in her “interaction with young people around this country and in the Caribbean as well, it is obvious that many are uninformed or misinformed about their sexual and reproductive health.”
Added to this, First Lady Granger said it is essential for parents, teachers and community leaders to address sexual and reproductive health, domestic violence, different forms of abuse and mental health, in a manner that is relatable to young people.
United Nations Children Fund’s (UNICEF) Adolescent and Development Officer, Jewel Crosse explained that her organisation sees the health club initiative as a vehicle that empowers adolescents to play an active role in deciding and implementing solutions to issues related to their health and wellbeing.
“The [school health] clubs will also give the students the opportunity to become agents of change and as agents of change you will be able to carry the information in which you receive into your homes, communities and the wider areas at large,” Crosse said.
It was added that the establishment of these clubs is an excellent opportunity to equip adolescents with necessary life skills to prevent poor health and avoid poor choices. “Poor health and poor choice can impact negatively on growth and development and can also affect a child’s ability to learn… We see the health clubs as being able to guide you to adopt positive behaviour.”
The health club is required to gear discussions and activities around topics and issues that affect students as they transition from childhood to adulthood.
At the conclusion of a training exercise for teachers earlier in the year, the ministry’s School Health Officer, Dr. Faqueeda Watson-Jones noted that many concerned stakeholders are playing a role in the functioning of the health clubs. These range from PTAs (Parent Teacher Association), persons from civil society in the school’s community, all government ministries including the Ministry of Education and the Department of Social Cohesion.