July 6th, 2010
From Brittany Hume, Corporate Contributions, Johnson & Johnson
Among those who play it, soccer can lend lessons of the power of believing in yourself, working as a team, overcoming challenges, and persevering toward a goal.
As it happens, these lessons are also the most important to teach youth at risk of HIV/AIDS. Low expectations, low self-confidence, and lack of hope are among the most dangerous risk factors for HIV/AIDS, as they can lead to risky behaviors. For this reason, evidence has shown that HIV prevention education is most effective when coupled with behavioral programming—like soccer—that addresses the social and personal root causes of risk.
Since 2007, Johnson & Johnson has supported soccer-based HIV prevention programs for youth, working with partners Academy for Educational Development (AED) and Grassroot Soccer in northern Namibia to deliver Grassroot Soccer’s proven (and fun) “Skillz” curriculum to 8,000 youth per year.
This year, we decided to go one step further, drawing upon the world’s soccer zeal and the African backdrop to highlight the power of soccer as a tool in the fight against HIV/AIDS. We chose to focus on teenage girls, who are at three times greater risk for HIV/AIDS than boys, and with whom soccer’s messages of empowerment and leadership resonate well.