Grassroot Soccer held its inaugural Adolescent Health Partnership Forum April 10-12, 2018 to harness the power of partnerships, influence the global adolescent health agenda, and achieve collective impact for today’s youth and tomorrow’s future.

Soweto, South Africa – The global development and health community makes the case for urgent investment in the health and capabilities of the world’s 1.2 billion adolescents—and in a time of uncertainty and competing global priorities, this is ever more important. Today’s adolescents will be the decision makers of 2030, and with support and encouragement from peers and adults, opportunities for growth, and services that respond to their unique health and development needs, adolescents can break the long-standing cycles of poverty and inequality.

Against this background, Grassroot Soccer held its inaugural Adolescent Health Partnership Forum April 10-12, 2018 to harness the power of partnerships, influence the global adolescent health agenda, and achieve collective impact for today’s youth and tomorrow’s future. More than 75 delegates from 14 countries and 54 organizations were in attendance to share their knowledge and experiences on how to promote the health and well-being of adolescents.

Addressing Forum delegates, Dr. Tommy Clark, CEO and Founder of Grassroot Soccer, shared, “We are committed to working hand-in-hand with our partners to maximize impact and outcomes. As implementers, policymakers, researchers and funders, your vision, knowledge, passion and experience are invaluable—and sharing best practices amongst us is key to ensuring the health and wellbeing of young people globally.”

Using Grassroot Soccer’s youth-friendly model as a backdrop, interactive sport-based SKILLZ sessions focused on how best to utilize Grassroot Soccer’s unique approach to building the Three A’s of Adolescent Health: Assets, Access, and Adherence, in an effort to promote and improve adolescent health services.

Grassroot Soccer hosted two high-level, multi-sectoral discussions during the Forum, including a Partnerships for Impact panel and a “Hot Topics” in Adolescent Health and Partnering for the Future panel. One of the key messages from the Forum was the importance of making services adolescent-centered; young people want non-judgemental service providers and to be included in decision-making. In the “Hot Topics” panel, Dr. Catherine Sozi, UNAIDS Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, shared, “Adolescents want what everyone else wants. We seem to forget that we have been adolescents. We forget they have the same right to health as everyone else. They want confidentiality; they want treatment with dignity. They want security, safety, trust, confidentiality, respect and more—in both health centers and schools.”

“The challenge is that most services are so focused on individual health outcomes. Having worked in the HIV field for many years now, it’s been very clear to me that we need to focus not just on adolescent health but on adolescent well-being. As soon as you extend outside the silo looking at health, you see that this is a human being embedded in a community, in a family, in an environment, and if you don’t make any effort to understand what the issues are that this individual is coming into contact with, you’ll make very little impact on your individual health outcome.”
-Dr. Heena Brahmbhatt, Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the “Hot Topics” in Adolescent Health panel (above photo)

Grassroot Soccer has always valued partnerships; over the last 15 years Grassroot Soccer has launched soccer-based development initiatives with governments, corporations, and civil society partners worldwide. The future of tomorrow depends on our collective action today.

For additional information on AHPF 2018, please visit www.grassrootsoccer.org/partnershipforum.