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Skillz Curriculum

Edition 3 of the Skillz Magazine featured South Africa's Portia Modise

Edition 3 of the Skillz Magazine featured South Africa's Portia Modise

GRS is at the cutting edge of curriculum development. With the understanding that curriculum is not static — they are always incorporating feedback, informal and formal evaluation to make their curriculum better.”

— Jess Quales, Mercy Corps HIV Program Officer

Grassroot Soccer’s ‘Skillz’ curriculum focuses on building basic life skills that help boys and girls adopt healthy behaviors and live risk-free.Through a series of interactive activities and discussions students gain a tangible understanding of HIV and AIDS and get a chance to practice the skills necessary for sustainable behavior change. Key curricular topics include making healthy decisions, avoiding risks, building support networks, reducing stigma and discrimination, increasing knowledge about testing and treatment, addressing gender issues, and assessing values.

Skillz is a culture, mindset, and toolkit for educators to use when teaching young people 12-18 about HIV and AIDS and life skills. Skillz creates simple but powerful connections between soccer (sport) and life skills. The Skillz approach helps young people engage in relevant and important discussions about life, take small steps to achieve their goals, are resilient when faced with challenges, and protect themselves and others from HIV and AIDS.

Grassroot Soccer has always striven for an equal gender balance within our Skillz programs and in 2010, recognized the need for a refined, girls-targeted approach to appropriately address gender specific challenges in the fight against HIV and AIDS in Southern Africa. In response to the unique risk factors that young women face, and the potential that a sport-based approach has to address them, GRS has created two new Skillz intervention products designed to keep young women HIV-free.

Skillz Interventions

The core Skillz curriculum consists of eight 45-minute sessions that use an activities-based approach to deliver HIV prevention and life skills education. In an activity called Risk Field, for example, participants dribble a soccer ball in between cones representing HIV-related risks—multiple partners, drug/alcohol abuse, sugar daddies, etc. If one player hits a cone, he and his teammates must complete 3 pushups, showing how the consequences of one person’s risk can not only affect him, but also his friends, family, and community. Other activities follow this same pattern of discovery-based learning—youth learn through active participation, as opposed to the passive chalk-and-talk style common among many African public schools.

GRS trains local community role models (soccer stars, coaches, teachers, and peer educators) as Skillz Coaches through 5-day Training of Coaches workshops. Once trained, Skillz Coaches then deliver interventions by implementing the curriculum in their communities and engaging with both in-school and out-of-school youth aged 10-18.

Skillz consists of four main types of interventions:

  1. In-school and after-school Skillz curriculum delivery
  2. Skillz Street (a girls-targeted intervention combining the Skillz curriculum with fair play soccer and peer-led community outreach activities)
  3. Skillz Tournaments (Voluntary Counseling and Testing tournaments linked to Skillz activities, HIV testing, and local treatment services)
  4. Skillz Holiday (week-long camps that combine the Skillz Curriculum with  soccer games and tournaments)
Skillz Coach’s Guide

Featuring a core curriculum of eight 45-minute sessions, which have been designed to fit within South Africa’s Life Orientation classes and are equally appropriate for inclusion in soccer programmes and community outreach activities, the Skillz Coach’s Guide serves as a facilitation tool for Skillz Coaches and teachers.

Through Skillz, GRS aims to reduce the spread of HIV by using role models as educators to teach youth about HIV prevention, life skills and healthy decision-making.  Topics of Skillz activities include: HIV basics, peer pressure, stigma and discrimination, risk awareness, partner reduction, gender awareness, Voluntary Counseling and Testing, social support, and positive living.  Skillz further aims to encourage increased understanding of and open dialogue about HIV and AIDS, recognizing that silence and stigma are pervasive drivers of the HIV epidemic.

Skillz further challenges youth to “Make Your Move” and take action by educating people in their communities about HIV and AIDS.

Skillz Magazine

Developed in conjunction with Skillz interventions and community outreach, Skillz magazine links readers to health services, promotes health-seeking behaviors, and reinforces messages from the Skillz curriculum.  Moreover, the magazine is a continuum of the Skillz curriculum, as its “Coach’s Corner” section features new activities aligned with concepts in the core curriculum.  Each of the twelve editions to be produced between 2009 and 2011 will focus on a particular HIV and AIDS and life skills related theme, such as multiple concurrent partners, gender-based violence, testing and treatment, relationships, challenging gender norms, etc.  GRS has begun working with leading organizations and experts to research the most relevant topics for each edition and align the magazine’s language and themes accordingly.  Skillz Coaches and teachers will use Skillz magazine to deliver educational activities with young people on an ongoing basis.

Skillz Magazine- World Cup Edition, June 2010