During the months of June and July of 2010, four University of Arizona students came as non-medical volunteers with NDI to promote sexual and physical health at a local secondary school on the island. During the two months, the students worked with a ninth grade class of 25 students ranging from ages 14-24. This was the first time NDI has done a project in one of the island’s local schools.
The participants of the program were engaged in different activities including various topics such as STD’s/AIDS prevention, safe sex, gender inequality, puberty, the reproductive process, anatomy, and familiar communication. During the discussion of these topics, students were able to perform many exciting hands-on activities such as replicating reproductive organs with clay and practicing how to use condoms as contraception with models. During the physical education portion of the project, students were introduced to many new physical education activities such as yoga and capture the flag. The class also included playing classic games such as soccer and kickball. At the end of the physical education activities, students were encouraged to remember the importance of stretching and drinking water as an importance in everyday life.
In addition to these activities, throughout the course of the program, students also participated in NDI’s youth photo voice project. The same students were given disposable cameras the first day of class and asked to take pictures of negative and positive aspects of health in their community. At the end of the program, more than 500 photos were revealed throughout the school and students were asked discuss the purpose of each photo they had taken. Many of the photos had recurring themes such as contaminated water, burning trash, and the importance of animals in common life.
As a result of this project, the students were engaged to challenge their minds and view health in a creative manner. Student participation increased immensely throughout the program-especially among the young men. For many, this was the first time they were asked to express their views, questions, comments, or thoughts on health in everyday life. The ESE team and NDI hope to continue this project in the near future and are currently working on a workbook and guide for both students and teachers on the island.