Nursing Students Empower Youth in Cato Crest
Second-year Nursing students from UKZN recently gave a talk to about 60 grade seven to grade nine learners from Mayville Primary and Mayville Secondary School at Cato Crest Library. The aim was to educate these learners about the consequences of teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, HIV and AIDS, intergenerational relationships, personal hygiene and various HIV prevention methods, with special emphasis on dual protection condom use.
The students presented the programme as part of their community engagement. Student nurse Ms Skye Lee Crouch told learners: 'Alcohol and drug abuse can lead to increased risky behaviours, which can affect your studies and your entire life.'
The youngsters were surprised to hear that people who start drinking before the age of 15 were four times more likely to become alcoholics than those who did not.
Crouch said they had been working in the community since February. They had started by doing community assessments in order to identify community needs, and from those identified needs they were able to implement a community intervention that would be relevant.
She said educators from both schools had agreed with the students’ discovery that alcohol abuse and teenage pregnancy were prevalent among children aged 13 to 16.
The 22 nursing students showcased the different consequences of reckless behaviour through various role-plays. Student nurse Mr Berlin Ngwevu taught the children about teenage pregnancy, substance abuse and intergenerational relationships (more commonly known as sugar daddies and sugar mamas). The play portrayed many aspects of self-destructive behaviour, such as how taking drugs and getting high can make one feel falsely confident, less inhibited and more willing to indulge in risky sexual behaviour.
'When you are under the influence of drugs, you are more likely to have unprotected sex,' explained Ngwevu. 'This will increase the risk of unwanted pregnancy and the spread of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STI).'
'Alcohol and drug abuse may also cause you to be expelled from school. There is then a higher probability of your falling into criminal ways, such as theft and violence,' he added.
Through the role-plays the learners were made aware of how dropping out of school can make unemployment very real. They were also made to realise that employers would not want to hire someone with no education because that person would not benefit the business.
'Not finishing high school means that you might not be able to have a steady income. You can miss out on the luxuries of life, such as a nice car or a beautiful house. You will be stuck in one position,' Couch explained at the end of the play.
Student nurse Mr Njabulo Khumalo taught the kids about dual protection and the correct use of condoms for both males and females. He used real models to demonstrate the condoms to the learners.
'In South Africa, 40% of teenage girls get HIV before they turn 20, and most of these girls get it from having sexual intercourse with older men,' he said.
'Many people may look healthy on the outside, yet the HIV virus is breeding inside their bodies. So regardless of how good a person looks on the outside or what they may tell you about their status, always use a condom. Unprotected sex can lead to HIV infections and pregnancy,' Khumalo warned.
The students also promoted hygiene. They cleaned the learners’ toilets and repainted them using paint bought from funds specifically raised for this project. They designed and printed A2-size posters that they donated to the two schools, with visual instructions on how to maintain hygiene.