The Tebelopele Voluntary Counselling and Testing Center this week launched the Youth Against Aids (YAA) club card, an initiative aimed at encouraging youth to access counseling services.
Speaking at the launch which was held at the Maharaja Hotel on Tuesday, Tebelopele Marketing Manager, Thandi Tumelo, explained that the card is going to allow youth that are registered under the YAA program to get discounts and other benefits from 11 companies which have committed to provide discounts to this program.
“These companies include Just Brands, Kgalagadi Music World, Milky Lane, Gaborone West Fitness Centre, Game, CD Sports, Gabzlink, Debonairs, Equatorial Coffee Company, MTC and Gym Active,” she stated. He said the card will begin full activation from September 1, 2007.
Tumelo highlighted that the YAA is a program which acts as a counseling based support for existing youth initiatives by creating linkages between public and private sectors. The programme, he said, is meant to expose young people to information and choices regarding their lives.
“It is strictly for youth by youth,” he stressed, adding that its goal is to provide a comprehensive, integrated platform for youth programming, giving youth information, education and life skills and support that would lead to the realization of their dreams and aspirations.
Tumelo said the program is designed to empower youth and enrich the communities in which they operate.
“Using a method of learning by teaching, YAA volunteers are engaged in a number of activities, which involve them in educating youth, resulting in them learning as well,” she explained.
The Youth Officer, Brian Pheto, said that the program is aimed at encouraging young people to seek counseling based prevention as well as to know their status. He said the service is for the people aged between 14 and 24 because this age bracket alone has the most influence on the way they are going to behave as adults and the choices that they make as teenagers.
According to Pheto, YAA is in collaboration with the Ministry of Education (MoE), Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture and Tebelopele. He said it also has partnerships with professional bodies and organizations in the field of education, careers, sports, music and fashion. “The focus is to bridge efforts and not duplicating them, feeding off synergies created by alliance and other youth based organizations.”
Pheto said that though they are far from where they intend to be, they have taken the hardest step which is the first.
“I know the odds are against us but we will rise to meet the challenge. Inspiration to succeed comes in many different forms, and we should get it from those who already lack faith in us, who say we are going to fail,” he said.
There are many programs similar to YAA that have been targeted by youth in the past, Pheto said, and all have one thing in common. He said none of them has been able to effectively change the behaviour of the youth. “It is time we take the bull by the horns and change the attitude so that behaviour will change as well,” he said.