Summer youth camp tackles teenage pregnancy, HIV, AIDS

The Cebu Provincial Government through the Provincial Social Welfare Development Office (PSWDO) Population Program in partnership with the Commission on Population (POPCOM 7)  recently held a  Summer Youth Camp 2016 last May 18-21 at Alta Resort in Cordova Cebu.

The first youth camp in the province was dubbed “Ako Mahimo: A Campaign against Teenage pregnancy and HIV and AIDS”, which points out the capacity and ability of the young people to empower themselves and empower others in addressing the issues that surrounds them.

Around 100 young participants represented the different cities and municipalities in the province for the advocacy in their respective local government units (LGUs).

The summer camp was designed to produce specific advocacy strategies for each LGU in the province of Cebu. Through this, participants were also able to present a SMART advocacy plan for their “Ako Mahimo” campaign in their respective areas, develop at least three core messages to address teen-age pregnancy and HIV and AIDS and propose an innovative and sustainable “Ako Mahimo” campaign activity to be implemented by the youth.

According to Ma.Luzely Rufo, Population Program Officer I of PSWDO, Ako Mahimo campaign is an advocacy by the youth wherein they must be equipped with the life skills and assets to help them make the best decisions for themselves and for their community.

“The main objective of the youth camp is to help prevent teen-age pregnancy, HIV and AIDS and spread the information on the disadvantages of engaging pre-marital sex,” said Rufo.

The Philippines is among the top 10 countries that registers an increasing number of teenage mothers. Seven out of 10 Filipina mothers are adolescents. Most of them are below 19 years old.

According to the 2013 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study, 78 percent of the first pre-marital sex among young Filipinos are unprotected, putting them at risk of teenage pregnancy or STI, HIV and AIDS or both.

In Central Visayas, the red flag is up in terms of sexual risks among young people. Region VII ranks fourth in terms of pre-marital sex exposure. Seven out of 10 of first pre-marital sex is unprotected against STI and/or pregnancy.

This scenario prompted the Department of Health and other agencies in government and non-government organizations to work together to address this issue. Several strategies and programs have been implemented by different agencies and youth-serving organizations.

However, most of the areas at the local level are yet to be covered. Thus, the LGUs need to take a proactive role to help address teen-age pregnancy, HIV, AIDS, drug use and other problems confronting the youth.

Rufo also added that the camp is also a sharing of experiences in youth development and discussion of issues affecting the young people in the locality.

Workshops were also conducted for the development of core messages for the campaign.

“Games and structured learning exercises were part of the encampment to uphold the principle of learning while having fun and to strengthen the bond among the youth in Cebu Province,” she said.